Creating a Multilingual Corpus of Nineteenth Century Economics to Research Conceptual Development: Human Capital as a Case Study

Olli Turunen, University of Helsinki

During the last decade or two we have witnessed an explosion in projects focusing on methods, sources, and technical tools of what has become called digital history or digital humanities. In many research projects digitization endeavours have become connected with methods and tools of bibliometrics and informatics, thereby expanding the expected skill-set of a historian or a social scientist on to new fields. Whether this direction is beneficial for the various fields of historical research in the long run in terms of methods, theory, or funding is still open. In the time being, untapped research questions, approaches, and methods are still a plenty. Therefore, this paper reviews the existing literature based on relevant ‘digital history’ projects in order to plan and create a multilingual digital corpus of French, German, and English nineteenth century economic texts. The goal is to create an expandable relative database combining texts, bibliographical data, biographies, and GIS data on authors and publications that allows effective application and development of tools for text mining, topic modelling, conceptual analysis, bibliographic analysis, GIS analysis, and their combinations through a web interface. The paper discusses existing tools, methods, databases, and research results and serves as a report on the current state of the project. The emergence and development of the concepts of human and intangible capital during the early nineteenth century are used as cases to test and showcase the possibilities of the approach, although the goal is to create a research tool helping to answer any questions related to the development of economic thought and its connections to policy and economic development during the long nineteenth century.

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 Presented in Session 200. Textual Analysis of Disciplinary Histories: Economics, Sociology and Concepts of Development