Enhancing Digital History – Event discovery via Topic Modeling and Change Detection
King Ip Lin | Sabrina Peng
Proceedings of the 2nd International Workshop on Natural Language Processing for Digital Humanities
Digital history is the application of computer science techniques to historical data in order to uncover insights into events occurring during specific time periods from the past. This relatively new interdisciplinary field can help identify and record latent information about political, cultural, and economic trends that are not otherwise apparent from traditional historical analysis. This paper presents a method that uses topic modeling and breakpoint detection to observe how extracted topics come in and out of prominence over various time periods. We apply our techniques on British parliamentary speech data from the 19th century. Findings show that some of the events produced are cohesive in topic content (religion, transportation, economics, etc.) and time period (events are focused in the same year or month). Topic content identified should be further analyzed for specific events and undergo external validation to determine the quality and value of the findings to historians specializing in 19th century Britain.