“En temmelig lang fodtur”: hGIS, Text Mining, and Folklore Collection in 19th Century Denmark

Ida Storm, Timothy R Tangherlini


In Scandinavia, the nineteenth century “golden age” of folklore collection coincided with rapid changes in political, economic, and social organization, and resulted in national collections of extraordinary scope. Although some later folklorists have expressed skepticism about the usefulness of these collections as resources for the study of folklore, ethnography and intellectual history, this skepticism is often based on incorrect notions of how these collections came to be, rather than a deep exploration of the actual practices of the collectors themselves. Building on earlier work, we show how techniques from historical Geographic Information Systems (hGIS) and text mining, wedded to time-tested archival research methods, reveal how a folklore collection came into being. By detailing the routes taken by  the Danish folklore collector Evald Tang Kristensen (1843-1929) over the course of his fifty-year active career, we trace how changes to transportation infrastructure impacted his collecting and how his attitudes toward fieldwork developed over time.


Folklore; Historical GIS; Topic Modeling; Text mining; Intellectual history

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