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Kornienko, S., Gagarina, D. (2016). The First World War in Perm Provincial Periodicals. In Digital Humanities 2016: Conference Abstracts. Jagiellonian University & Pedagogical University, Kraków, pp. 608-609.
The First World War in Perm Provincial Periodicals

The First World War in Perm Provincial Periodicals

Regional newspapers’ periodicals hold a firm place in the humanities among the sources of studying the First World War and its impact on the state and development of the countries and nations in the early 20 th century. This kind of sources is especially significant at the level of micro-history and history of everyday life. At the same time, it is complicated to put provincial periodicals into scientific circulation due to problems of access, preservation, organization as well as effective search and analysis of information (Kornienko and Gagarina, 2015).

The source-oriented information system “The First World War in Perm Provincial Periodicals” ( http://permnewspapers.ru/) is an integrated solution to identify problems based on approaches, methods and technologies of Digital Humanities in general and Digital History in particular. The project is realized in the laboratory of historical and political information science of Perm State University in cooperation with the Perm Regional Museum (Russia).

The information system provides free access for scholars to images and full-texts of ten newspapers collections published in Perm province during the First World War. There are more than 2500 issues. Publications cover periods of Imperial Russia, the 1917 Revolution and the Civil War and represent different ideological political movements. These editions include:

  • official periodicals of provincial administration of Imperial Russia: “Пермские губернские ведомости” (“Perm Province Bulletin”);
  • official periodicals of the 1917 Revolution and the Provisional Government period: “Вестник Пермского края” (“Herald of Perm Region”), “Пермский вестник Временного правительства” (“Perm Herald of Provisional Government”);
  • official newspapers of various levels councils:
    • provincial level: “Известия Пермского губернского комитета” (“News of Perm Provincial Committee”);
    • branch level: “Известия исполнительного комитета Совета железнодорожных депутатов Пермской железной дороги” (“Proceedings of the Executive Committee of the Board of Railway Deputies of Perm Railroad”);
    • district (uyezd) level: “Известия Осинского исполнительного комитета Совета крестьянских, рабочих и солдатских депутатов” (“News of Osa Executive Committee of Peasants, Workers and Soldiers Deputies”);
  • official gazette of the Perm Province Zemstvo: “Пермская земская неделя” (“Perm Zemstvo Week”).

Meaningful diversity and variety of publication's types are distinguishing features of the provincial newspaper periodicals. Official and unofficial newspapers published full texts of normative acts of different levels authorities, official announcements and telegrams, reference and information materials, articles, notes, satires, and others. There were treatments of government, laws and draft laws, regulations, diplomatic notes, information from the fronts of the First World War, reports on meetings of the Government, the Interim Committee of the State Duma, the State Conference and other agencies, including provincial and district authorities, as well as non-government organization. The newspapers published various materials on local history, geography, statistics, ethnography and cover topical issues of socio-economic, political, scientific and cultural life of the country and the region.

Such breadth of perspective and variety of publications leads to a high level of demand for local periodicals as a source of information for humanitarian studies in political, economic and social history, the history of printing and journalism, literature, linguistics, philology, cultural studies, political science, etc.

However, a variety of information submits special claims for its structuring in the information system, the search tools, representation and visualization of electronic versions.

The informational system “The First World War in Perm Provincial Periodicals” is structured based on metadata system that includes thematic fields (rubrics, headings, subheadings of publications), geographical, toponymical fields, personalities. This provides effectiveness of information retrieval and samples formation on various topics, issues, and other criteria at the level of the issue, single newspaper or their combination as well as whole collection. The system also gives possibilities to search keyword and context on titles and full texts for all editions and publications.

The informational system allows visualization of information at the level of newspapers, issues and publications. The results of search requests are displayed in the form of various lists and full-text publications. Each issue of newspapers is presented page by page in PDF format (text below the image), which help to preserve the text content and appearance of newspapers as much as possible. In addition, this method of representation allows text verification and editing as well as reading if OCR is found to be impossible. Texts of publications on the First World War theme are presented in HTML format. Both PDF files and texts as well as all other information and metadata on newspapers, issues and publications are stored in MySQL database.

Organization and structuring of sources data, search tools and visualization tools allow to obtain data on a wide range of issues related to the First World War, life and activities of the region's population in this period.

The information system “The First World War in Perm Provincial Periodicals” provides new possibilities for evaluating potential sources of information, completeness, representativeness and credibility of Perm newspapers periodicals, using computer processing techniques, obtaining new data for scientific humanities research.

Issues that can be studied by the system include attitude towards the war of different social classes and various persons in Perm, the evaluation of forces and the actions of Russia, its allies and opponents. It covers key war events, the role of various commanders, activities of Nicholas II, events in the Perm province and its districts related to the war and their consequences, the creation of images of the war, daily life in the rear and the fronts, etc.

Techniques and methods for solving research tasks are developed based on different types of database queries, which allow obtaining quantitative characteristics, samples for various themes and for specific items of publications. The implementation of these types of queries permits to determine the most common types and genres, subject focus of publications and their relation, generate text fragments and interpretation of the results in terms of the completeness and nature of the information source.

The study is supported by Russian Foundation for Humanities (grant 14-11-59003).

  1. Kornienko, S. and Gagarina, D. (2015). Information systems: new methods of Russian history sources study. International Multidisciplinary Scientific Conferences Social Sciences AND Arts SGEM 2015. Conference Proceedings. Anthropology, Archaeology, History and Philosophy. Sofia, pp. 337-43.