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BiographyNet: the Project

The Biography Portal of the Netherlands links more than 75.000 Dutch people mentioned in various databases, through a limited set of metadata. This project aims to enhance its potential for historical research by transforming the available data into a semantic knowledge base and through the creation of a demonstrator. BiographyNet is a multidisciplinary project that combines expertise from history, computer science and computational linguistics.

The lead questions for the design of a semantic demonstrator are: Which relations can we reveal between people and events, geographical movements and networks between people? What do they tell historians about the formation of Dutch society and the ‘boundaries of the Netherlands’?

The current search engine lacks the analytic tools to show interconnections, trends, geographical maps, time lines, etc. This project aims to strengthen the value of the portal and comparable biographical datasets for historical research, by improving the search options and the presentation of its outcomes, starting from the Simple Event Model. The demonstrator will add a semantic layer on to the current Biography Portal. This layer can also include information from external resources, such as museum objects or Wikipedia. Ultimately, the project may help to reveal unknown relations between people and events by linking data that has mainly been studied in isolation so far.

Project Meetings

BiographyNet project meetings are once every two weeks;

Next Meeting:

Unless stated otherwise the location is WN-U325 (the Exact Sciences building at VU University in Amsterdam).

Previous Meetings


  • eScience Center, 21 March 2013 (Guus, Susan, Serge, Antske, Niels)
  • NIAS, 21 March 2013 (Piek)
  • eScience Center, 18 September 2013(Piek, Serge, Niels, Antske, Susan)
  • Huygens ING, 10 October 2013 (Serge, Antske, Niels, Susan, Piek)
  • 3rd International Workshop on Linked Science 2013—Supporting Reproducibility, Scientific Investigations and Experiments (LISC2013), 21 October 2013 (Niels)
  • Digital Humanities: Critical views and experiences: Workshop organized by e-Humanities Group KNAW, Amsterdam, 15 November 2013 (Serge, Antske)
  • Invited talk at eScience Center - Design of the BiographyNet schema: Multiple views and provenance, 28 November 2013 (Niels)
  • THATcamp, The Hague, 14 January 2014 (Serge)



  • Niels Ockeloen, Antske Fokkens, Serge ter Braake, Piek Vossen, Victor de Boer, Guus Schreiber and Susan Legêne (2013) BiographyNet: Managing Provenance at multiple levels and from different perspectives. In: Proceedings of the Workshop on Linked Science (LiSC) at ISWC 2013, Sydney, Australia, October 2013.
  • Antske Fokkens, Marieke van Erp, Marten Postma, Ted Pedersen, Piek Vossen and Nuno Freire (2013) Offspring from Reproduction Problems: What Replication Failure Teaches Us. In: Proceedings of ACL 2013, Sofia, Bulgaria, August 2013. runner up for best paper award!
  • Serge ter Braake, ‘Het individu en zijn tijdgenoten. Wat een biograaf kan doen met prosopografie en biografische woordenboeken’, Tijdschrift voor Biografie 3 (summer 2013) vol. 2.
  • Antske Fokkens, Marieke van Erp, Piek Vossen, Sara Tonelli, Willem Robert van Hage, Luciano Serafini, Rachele Sprugnoli and Jesper Hoeksema (2013) GAF: A Grounded Annotation Framework for Events. The 1st Workshop on Events: Definition, Detection, Coreference, and Representation. Workshop in conjunction with NAACL-HLT 2013, Atlanta, GA, USA, June 2013.
  • Niels Ockeloen, Victor de Boer and Lora Aroyo (2013) LDtogo: A Data Querying and Mapping Framework for Linked Data Applications. Demonstration track at ESWC 2013, Montpellier, France.

Planned Publications

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Project Leaders



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