Prosopography is a very important research area in the humanities, as it enables researchers to answer a number of important questions about historical societies and the lives of people within them that are difficult to answer when only considering primary sources about individual persons or events alone. The various sources available to us about early modern European Catholic nuns and monks are among the most interesting for transformation into a modern prosopographical database. This is because monastic communities were highly interconnected throughout Europe, the nuns and monks came from a wide range of geographic and social backgrounds, and the data they produced about themselves and their peers was often of very high quality and well- structured.
For these reasons, various primary sources have already been transferred into the digital domain by different research efforts. NAMPI (“Nuns and Monks – Prosopographical Interfaces”) is a project that aims to alleviate some of the most severe drawbacks of the existing digital resources in the area of early modern religious prosopography. These are: a narrow focus and lack of metadata structures that makes content difficult to compare, and unclear technical standards that make digital data difficult to share and reuse for researchers.
NAMPI will create an RDF semantic database based on the factoid model ontology developed by Pasin & Bradley, which together with additional content-oriented ontologies allows an accurate portrayal of the lives of early modern nuns and monks. The data will be made available to researchers and for reuse by other projects through a modern and well-documented REST API and a website based on it. This will enable registered contributors to edit data and anonymous users to browse and query the prosopographical information and extract a complex and accurate picture of the persons represented in the database.
By the end of the project, NAMPI will incorporate data from already available databases like ProDomo or Germania Sacra as well as from previously unpublished sources like profession books. In this way NAMPI will contribute to making information on the lives of early modern nuns and monks available to researchers and the general public alike and help to further our knowledge about our past and our cultural heritage.