From the Biography Portal of the Netherlands to a Virtual Society of People Past and Present

The Biography Portal of the Netherlands links a wide variety of Dutch online reference works and data sets, written in different times and from different perspectives, through a limited number of metadata. This project aims to enhance its research potential for historical research on the portal’s ‘virtual community’ of the more than 100,000 Dutch people mentioned in the various linked databases. What historical narrative can be generated from digital access to these dictionaries of biography, lexicons and portrait collections? The lead question for the design of a demonstrator is: how can we generate relationships between peoples and events, geographical movements of and networks between people from the Biography Portal and what do they tell historians about the formation of Dutch society and the ‘boundaries of the Netherlands’. The project demonstrator will add a semantic layer on to the current Biography Portal. The pilot will focus on a qualitative selection of links, relevant to the National Portrait Gallery that is being developed by Rijksmuseum.