Machine Learning Approaches for Historical Trade Directories

December 6 2022, 10:00 - December 7 2022, 5:00

Please join us at the Alan Turing Institute for a joint workshop / hack, co-sponsored by ‘Living with Machines’ and the ‘Congruence Engine’, one of the AHRC’s TaNC Discovery Projects (based at the Science Museum Group).

This event, led by Daniel Wilson, will focus on the two projects’ shared interest in making historical trade directories ready for computational research. Trade directories are an unparalleled primary source for understanding social and economic life in Britain. These have been digitised in large numbers, above all by the University of Leicester; however, it remains difficult to make use of these materials to conduct systematic searches ‘at scale’, primarily because of the heterogenous layout and printing of the texts.

This workshop will assemble around twenty specialists, researchers, software engineers, curators and historians, for an intense two-day sprint. Together, we will explore the use of cutting-edge methods in computer vision, document and layout analysis to help make these incredibly rich historical sources available to researchers.

If you are interested in following the results of this work, please get in touch directly at or follow our blog for updates.

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