In 2007, the first phase of the project DOGD (Digital Charterbook Groningen and Drenthe) was completed and the website www.cartago.nl was launched. As a result of this project more than 20.000 charters and other sources from the provincial archives in Groningen and Drenthe were that year made digitally accessible, recently extended to 150.000 images.
The early charters and deeds in the Dutch provinces Groningen and Drenthe are the most important historical sources of these regions. There are hardly any older city accounts, judicial protocols or other comparable sources that can be systematically researched up to the mid-16th century. This explains the importance of charters in these Dutch provinces, sharply contrasting with the difficulty in retrieval of these sparse but disparate extant sources.
The project’s website www.cartago.nl is a newly developed system that makes all relevant documents accessible with scans of original documents, existing metadata and transcriptions that are also searchable.
Today the DOGD is the only larger digital charterbook in the Netherlands. Various archives in the Netherlands have shown interest in the possibility to publish different medieval sources (chartes, city accounts etc.), using the technology and the experiences of the website Cartago.
That enabled the DOGD to take the lead to design a more generic structure to meet the needs of archivists and users, scientists as well as non-professionals. A large, general publication of all Dutch medieval sources will never be possible (and probably not desirable). The Semantic Web however offers possiblities to connect current and future digital charterbooks, can help to prevent re-inventing the wheel and to work towards a next generation of publication of (Dutch) medieval sources in a European context.
Drs. Redmer Alma
Drents Archief, Assen NL