Author: Judith Rog
Delpher is a joint initiative of the Meertens Institute of Research and documentation of Dutch language and culture, the university libraries of Amsterdam (UvA), Groningen, Leiden and Utrecht, and the National Library of the Netherlands, to bring together the otherwise fragmented access to digitized historical text corpora.
Delpher currently contains over 90.000 books, over 1 million newspapers, containing more than 10 million pages, over 1.5 million pages from periodicals, and 1.5 million ANP news bulletins that are all full text searchable. New content will continually be added in the coming years.
Since the initial launch in November 2013 we received several suggestion for improvement or bug fixes. On the 20th of November 2014, exactly one year after the initial launch, a new version of Delpher was released. In the new version, the most important of these issues are solved. Delpher is now also mobile friendly, the overall user interaction is improved and the INL Lexicon Service was added.
The INL Lexicon Service
Delpher contains content ranging from the 17th until the 20th century. In this time period, the spelling of words has changed frequently. Doing a full text search in Delpher for the word koninklijke (royal) in the historical newspaper results in 1.207.342 newspaper articles, the oldest one dating back to 1674. During the mentioned time period, the word koninklijke had many spelling variants. A Delpher user who is unaware of these variants may miss out on many relevant resources. The importance of this issue was underlined by the ‘golden tip’ (in Dutch) provided by one of our users in the summer of 2014, i.e. to include a number of different spellings in search requests.
As part of the Succeed project, the Lexicon service as developed by INL, the Institute for Dutch Lexicology, was integrated in Delpher to tackle this problem. The INL LexiconService is a webservice that gives online access to the GiGaNT lexicon of 15th to 20th century Dutch by means of http requests.
Using the Lexicon Service, a user searching for “koninklijke” is now offered 14 spelling variants of “koninklijke”. After selecting one or more variants, the query is automatically expanded to an OR query including the selected variant(s). Searching for example for koninklijke or conincklicke or konincklijcke or koninglijk or koninglijke or keuninklijke or koningklyk gives 8.525 more results, the oldest one dating back to 1649. The implementation of the Lexicon Service in Delpher shows how it may be used in a library catalogue. For a complete overview of the possibilities of the webservice, please see the Succeed Wiki.
Try it out yourself!
The current version of Delpher has a Dutch interface only, but even without thorough knowledge of Dutch it’s probably not too hard to try out the new service. First activate the LexiconService in the settings screen: (“Zoeksuggesties tonen met historische spellingvarianten”). Then type your query in the advanced search fields (select “Uitgebreid zoeken”) and search for books, newspapers or periodicals.