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Grant number like: HC-278125-21

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University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA 90089-0012)
Deborah Ann Holmes-Wong (Project Director: August 2020 to present)
Yao-Yi Chiang (Co Project Director: October 2020 to present)

Cooperative Agreements and Special Projects (Digital Humanities)
Digital Humanities

[Grant products]

$149,650 (approved)
$135,691 (awarded)

Grant period:
2/1/2021 – 10/31/2023

Machines Reading Maps: Finding and Understanding Text on Maps

The development of a workflow that would use advanced machine learning and annotation tools to extract and annotate text on maps across large historic map collections. The UK partner, The Alan Turing Institute, is requesting £199,942 from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Machines Reading Maps aims to transform how humanities scholars and cultural heritage professionals interact with map images. Maps constitute a vast body of global cultural heritage, and only a very small portion has been brought into digital platforms for meaningful search, investigation, and discovery at scale. Our project will create open-source tools and methods that employ machine-learning to enable researchers and cultural institutions to identify text on scanned maps and make that text meaningful via metadata creation and linking to historical gazetteers and other resources. Working with partners at the Library of Congress, British Library, and National Library of Scotland, we will generate and share data and methods from Sanborn, Goad, and OS historical maps and link map text to resources for understanding US and UK social history. Our project will enrich spatial explorations of history and help cultural institutions share map collections more effectively with the public.