Launch: Historical Network Research Lunch Lectures (starting January 21, 2021)

Dear all,

The Historical Network Research community is pleased to announce the HNR Lunch Lectures Series. From January 2021 onwards, monthly online lectures will shed a spotlight on recent research and ideas from the field of historical network analysis to promote discussion among the HNR community. 

The first lecture will be on January 21, 2021. Starting off the new year will be Demival Vasques Filho, research associate at the Leibniz Institute of European History (IEG) in Mainz (abstract below). The lecture will start at 12:00 pm CET and ends one hour later.

To register, please send a message to before January 15, 2021. You will receive a Zoom link by email prior to the lunch lecture. 

For February, our next speaker will be Henrike Rudolph, assistant professor at the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Göttingen. She explores the development of intersecting academic and political networks of Chinese scientists and experts since the Republican period in their national and international dimensions. 

We look forward to seeing you in January!

Best wishes, 

Aline Deicke (Academy of Sciences and Literature | Mainz)

Ingeborg van Vugt (Utrecht University)


Extracting large-scale network data from archives

by Demival Vasques Filho (

The paper Networks from archives: Reconstructing networks of official correspondence in the early modern Portuguese empire–recently published in the journal Social Networks, with my co-authors Agata Bloch and Michal Bojanowski–addresses the problem of processing a large corpus of unstructured textual information to extract network data. Our corpus consists of almost 170,000 documents of administrative correspondence of the Portuguese empire with its Atlantic overseas territories, from 1610 to 1833, cataloged in the Portuguese Overseas Archives of Lisbon. In this HNR lunch-lecture, I will first talk over the methods we used to extract network data from natural language corpora, with detailed technical information about the six steps for creating network data as we described in the paper. These steps include manually annotating texts, developing a named entity recognition model, using regular expressions to identify relational (sender/recipient) data, and avoiding duplicates among the entities extracted. Second, focusing on networks analysis, I will discuss the methods we envision to perform (future work) with this dataset in order to engage with the historiography of the early modern Portuguese empire and the discussion about the multi-continental monarchy theory. This discussion will cover the limitations of correspondence data and the reconstruction of multilayer networks of actors and institutions.

Published by Ingeborg van Vugt
December 15, 2020

Stay tuned

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