Exposing the history of Europe: The creation of a structure to enable time-spatial searching of historical resources within a European framework

Paula J. Aucott, Alexander von Lünen, Humphrey Southall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to describe the development of a knowledgebase supporting a prototype Europe-wide time-spatial search interface for historical resources. It discusses how this structure could be used to access other types of digital heritage content. 

Design/methodology/approach: By using a relational database with spatial capabilities, a multi-lingual search structure has been created which supports a temporal map and a facetted browser, collaborative facilities and a heritage resource viewer, with links to online catalogues. 

Findings: Combining data from three states with very different histories identified the strengths and weaknesses of the approach. The framework's flexibility means it could easily be re-purposed to support front ends to other types of cultural content. 

Research limitations/implications: Due to the variability in the administrative unit source data, its initial integration required significant manipulation to achieve consistency; however, the benefits of data assimilation ensure the base framework is as efficient as possible. 

Practical implications: Usage levels of on-line cultural resources will be far higher if ordinary users can access them via access routes which have meaning for them, such as by locality/place. Ontology-based geographical frameworks are much easier to search by place name than are conventional GIS systems, and vastly more accessible to search engines. 

Originality/value: This interface demonstrates the potential for integrating data from any number of different national organisations into a single user tool. It also highlights the potential for utilising the underlying structure in multiple contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270-286
Number of pages17
JournalOCLC Systems and Services
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2009
Externally publishedYes


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