Identifying, Extracting, and Georeferencing Toponyms from a Nineteenth-Century Text



Dorman, Eric

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This thesis explores the process of recreating and mapping a journey from an 1863 work of realistic fiction, Five Weeks in a Balloon, by Jules Verne. As with many of Verne’s works, the novel is a geographically-rich story set in 19th-century Africa, with locations provided through coordinate-based metric georeferences, relative georeferences, and place names, many of which are outdated or archaic. This work answers the question: Is it possible to map a journey documented with antiquated place names, and if not, what should be done to improve the system? Using three different published editions of Fives Weeks in a Balloon as a source for place names, as well as multiple digital gazetteer resources, and period-specific maps; this research demonstrates that it is possible to reconstruct the literary journey in a geographic information system (GIS). Where the journey cannot be reconstructed or only partially so, this thesis discusses ways to improve the method. In the end, charting journeys with obsolete place names is possible, but current gazetteers struggle to resolve all of the place names contained in the text, underscoring the need for temporal gazetteer development, focusing on antiquated place names and abandoned locations. Future development of historical gazetteers will be useful for research in the humanities and social sciences, where historical source documents are often used.



Georeferencing, Period maps, Georectification, Jules Verne, Gazetteer, Five Week in a Balloon