“Iurisprudentia” is a project of the Department of Private Law with a focus on the Civil Code at the University of Zurich, led by Prof. Dr. Walter Boente. It aims to make the “Law” text corpus , which has grown over the centuries and is made up of legislative works, law cases and legal studies, more digitally accessible and also aims to process the data extracted from it. The initial focus lies on historical documents of the Austrian, Swiss and German legal systems. The largest part of these documents can be found distributed across various archives and libraries and are only accessible on site, sometimes even under special conditions and almost always linked to opening hours. Especially handwritten texts are not easily searchable and mostly not even transcribed. In addition to that, the already transcribed and digitized documents are often scattered all over the internet and likely to be hidden behind paywalls. This poses a great challenge for the field and the accessibility of the historical documents. Therefore, the project created a digital space in which all documents can be found and searched for legal research purposes. By using the Transkribus and read&search platforms, already more than 390,000 documents, handwritten as well as printed, were transcribed with a surprisingly low error rate and are now available for analysis and presentation.
The iurisprudentia project does not only create accessibility to large amounts of historical data, but also contributes significantly to the field of computational linguistics. After a successful pilot phase and in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Jakob Fortunat Stagl, other legal sources will be processed, and international partnerships are sought. Find out more about the project here.