Describing the Archive: Identifying Biased and Offensive Language in Archive Catalogues

This talk will present the results of a three-month research project aiming to develop methods to automatically identify bias and offensive language in legacy archive descriptions. Anecdotal evidence suggests that offensive language and bias exist in catalogue descriptions. The project has built a proof-of-concept prototype methodology from work conducted upon
descriptions from the Brotherton Special Collections in Leeds, using corpus analysis of sets of legacy descriptions.

The conference will take place on Thursday 13th January 2022, 6pm-7.15pm UK TIME – online via Zoom (or in-person at The Treehouse, Humanities Research Centre, University of York). It is possible to book via Eventbrite:

About the speakers:

Dr. Vic Clarke is a Lecturer in Modern British History at the University of York, working on 19th century political movements. She gained her PhD from the University of Leeds in 2020, exploring the role of the Northern Star newspaper in community-building and communication in the Chartist movement, including a corpus linguistics analysis of the ‘Readers and Correspondents’ column. She was previously a postdoctoral fellow at the Leeds Arts and Humanities Research Institute (LAHRI).
Dr. Kevin Matthew Jones is a Research Fellow at the National Archives, developing methods to digitally represent nationwide archive statistics c.2007 – 2020. His research interests are in the history of medical data, specialising in mental health and the use of psychiatric classification in public health reports and medical records. During their LAHRI fellowships, Kevin and Vic worked on a National Archives funded ‘TestBed’ project on finding problematic and offensive language in legacy descriptions in the Brotherton Special Collections archives. It is this work they will be presenting to IPUP.

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