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Prosop: a social networking tool for the past

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[First posted in AWOL 20 June 2011. Updated 8 April 2013]

Prosop: a social networking tool for the past
In the last decade, historians have renewed their interest in local history, and they have brought computers with them to the archives. This research has produced a great deal of prosopographic data: lists of names. For the most part, however, each local story is told in solitude from the work of other historians. History's local turn has been accompanied by a transnational turn, and here too researchers have not found ways to share and aggregate their data.

This project aims to offer a tool (called Prosop) that will accomplish this goal. Prosop will combine a highly flexible database of names and demographic information with a user friendly, customizable, opensource interface. It will put the best features of social networking applications, collaborative wikis, geotagging, and data search and filtering at the service of social historians. Prosop is designed to meet the disciplinary requirements of professional historians, while remaining attractive to amateur historians and genealogists.

With generous funding from the NEH Office of Digital Humanities, Prosop will convene content creation workshops in 2013; see our call for participants. In the meantime, if you are interested in the project, and/or possess a large database of historical names, please get in touch with the project director, Will Hanley (Florida State University).

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