Exploring the Dutch Prize Papers

On the Maritime Portal there are several reports on the English archive collection of Prize Papers, documents that British privateers captured from enemy ships in the period 1652-1815. The portal also contains information on the website of the Dutch pricing papers, which Huygens ING (KNAW) started two years ago. 72,000 scans of mainly Dutch documents from the 17th to early 19th centuries are freely available at https://prizepapers.huygens.knaw.nl/. The first aim of the Huygens ING-Project is to digitize a great variety of Dutch documents in order to make them freely available in a structured research environment. This was made possible by grants from Bureau Metamorfoze and the Samenwerkende Maritieme Fondsen. The 87 inventory numbers, from which the so diverse, unique, non-loanable material comes, have been provided by Huygens ING with some metadata such as ship and captain names and a periodization, mostly the year in which the (Dutch) ship was captured. This makes it easy to search for inventory numbers, capture dates and names of ships and captains. The requested documents will then appear in the results screen. The website was presented during the first “Vlootschouw” symposium in the Scheepvaartmuseum in Amsterdam (January 2020) to a wide audience. In the course of this, the second aim was discussed, namely to make the entire content of the documents searchable and suitable for interdisciplinary analytical research. In order to do so, an automatic transcription (OCR) was used, which made it possible to recognize printed texts. To fully read handwritten documents from the 17th to the 19th centuries, however, another method is needed. This is where Transkribus comes into play. With the HTR software, 100 scans of documents of different periods and languages are used as training material to create a Ground Truth; this happens manually. After the Ground Truth status is achieved, 900 further scans will function as a validation set. The aim is to create a new model with Transkribus which can read the Dutch Prize Papers. Read more here: https://maritiemportal.nl/blog-dutch-prize-papers-huygens-ing-knaw/#more-19325 

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