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BY-NC-ND 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Oldenbourg 2023

Tracing Discourses in Digital Newspaper Collections

From the book Digitised Newspapers – A New Eldorado for Historians?

  • Sarah Oberbichler and Eva Pfanzelter


Based on a case study on return migration - defined as the movement of emigrants, refugees, prisoners of war, and others back to their country of origin - this paper deals with a historical-critical approach to digital newspaper collections and interfaces. Using discourse driven historical research questions to examine return migration, it highlights the usability and relevance of digital source criticism (OCR issues, digitization process, newspaper title selection, etc.), digital query criticism (selection of keywords or parts of keywords, consequences of length, polysemy, etc.), and interface criticism (possibilities to search, view, select, collect, visualize, contextualization-efforts, metadata, etc.). We argue that due to the complexity of language coupled with intransparent functionalities of newspaper interfaces, distorted, misunderstood or misinterpreted results can occur. Some inherent biases in the digital collections themselves as well as missing metadata and context can lead to distortions that only at a first glance seem trivial and banal.

© 2022 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston
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