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Automatically analysing large texts in a GIS environment: The Registrar General’s reports and cholera in the nineteenth centuryThe aim of this article is to present new research showcasing how Geographic Information Systems in combination with Natural Language Processing and Corpus Linguistics methods can offer innovative venues of research to analyze large textual collections in the Humanities, particularly in historical research. Using as examples parts of the collection of the Registrar General’s Reports that contain more than 200,000 pages of descriptions, census data and vital statistics for the UK, we introduce newly developed automated textual tools and well known spatial analyses used in combination to investigate a case study of the references made to cholera and other diseases in these historical sources, and their relationship to place-names during Victorian times. The integration of such techniques has allowed us to explore, in an automatic way, this historical source containing millions of words, to examine the geographies depicted in it, and to identify textual and geographic patterns in the corpus.
Further frontiers in GIS: Extending Spatial Analysis to Textual Sources in ArchaeologyAlthough the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) has a long history in archaeology, spatial technologies have been rarely used to analyse the content of textual collections. A newly developed approach termed Geographic Text Analysis (GTA) is now allowing the semi-automated exploration of large corpora incorporating a combination of Natural Language Processing techniques, Corpus Linguistics, and GIS. In this article we explain the development of GTA, propose possible uses of this methodology in the field of archaeology, and give a summary of the challenges that emerge from this type of analysis.