Intelligent Search Engine for Belief Legends (ISEBEL)

Office of Digital Humanities

Women and children dressed in folklore costumes.
Photo caption

Women and children dressed in folklore costumes.

Courtesy of the Dutch National Archives

ISEBEL will provide intelligent search and analysis across three of the world’s largest machine actionable folklore collections: Dutch Folktale Database (Meertens Instituut, Amsterdam), the Danish Folktale Database (UCLA, Los Angeles), and the Mecklenburger Folklore Database (WossiDiA, Rostock). This unique collaboration presents the opportunity for large scale data-driven research into traditional folk expressive culture.  By facilitating search, discovery and analysis across all three collections, ISEBEL provides researchers an unprecedented opportunity to discover patterns both within and across the target corpora.  The proposed research, focusing on storytellers, legends and the dispersion of beliefs in magic, witchcraft, hauntings and supernatural beings, seeks to reveal what ordinary people believed, and how storytelling traditions and story repertoires differed in and across these three areas.

This project was funded in part by an NEH award through the Digging into Data Challenge, an initiative of the Trans-Atlantic Platform.  The project features a collaboration among an international team of folklore scholars and computer scientists from the University of California, Los Angeles (United States), the Meertens Instituut (Netherlands), and the University of Rostock (Germany).