Category Archives: News

Concluding conference of the HIMANIS project on 27 October 2017

To celebrate the achievements and the end of the HIMANIS project, the Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes (IRHT) is organizng a conference on Friday, 27 October 2017, to present, explain and discuss the impact of handwriting recognition technologies for medieval studies and heritage institutions.

The European project HIMANIS (HIstorical MANuscript Indexing for user-controlled search), led by the IRHT, brought together several research teams in engineering sciences, both private (A2iA, France), and public (PRHLT-UPVLC, Spain and Alice-Groningen Univ., The Netherlands), with the support of the National Archives and the National Library of France.

The main result of this project is that it is now possible to carry out keyword searches in the corpus of registers of the French royal chancery of the 14th and 15th centuries. For the moment there are 167 volumes of the National Archives series, JJ 7 – JJ 209 and 20 volumes of the Bibliothèque nationale de France. The interface (still preliminary) can be accessed at the following address: It is a test interface, which will evolve in the coming months, with additional manuscripts and new functionalities, notably to
navigate between the results, to display the regests and editions. HIMANIS also aims at computer-assisted analysis of the different hands involved in each volume, to study the functioning of the royal chancellery and the progressive construction of the centralized state of the French monarchy.

Entry is free but registration is required: Registration form.


40 Avenue d’Iéna
75016 Paris


14h – François Bougard (Director of IRHT) and Emmanuel Rousseau (Director of collections, National Archives), Welcome and introduction.

14h30 – Jean-François Moufflet (Heritage Curator in the Department of the Middle Ages and the Ancien Régime, National Archives), Le projet HIMANIS ou la mise à l’index des registres.

15h – Dominique Stutzmann (researcher, IRHT), Automatic indexing for research in medieval history.

15h30 –  Christopher Kermorvant (A2iA/Teklia), Artificial paleography : training computer to read medieval manuscripts.

4 pm – Break
16:15 – Enrique Vidal (Universitat Politècnica de València), Text indexing and user-controlled search.

16h45 – Lambert Schomaker (University Groningen) and Sukalpa Chanda (University Groningen), Writer identification.

17h15-18h – Roundtable with researchers and representatives of end users, with Sébastien Barret (head of the Diplomatic Section, IRHT), Paul Bertrand (professor of medieval history and digital humanities at the Catholic University of Louvain), Charlotte Denoël (curator of libraries, head of the department of medieval manuscripts, Bibliothèque Nationale de France) and Judicael Petrowiste (lecturer in medieval history (University of Paris 7 – Paris Diderot, to be confirmed).

Job: Research Fellow position for the HORAE project / Ingénieur de recherche pour le projet HORAE

Job description / Fiche de poste (pdf) :


I got a job for you… (Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Dép. MSS, Rothschild 2535 (24 b)

English version: Research Fellow / Ingénieur de recherche
    Position focus
    Required Education, Skills and Experience
    About the project HORAE
    Host institution
    How to Apply

Version française: Ingénieur de recherche en analyse de sources
    Le projet HORAE
    Institution d’accueil


Research Fellow / Ingénieur de recherche en analyse de sources

Institution: Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes

Location: Paris, France

Application Due: 31 Oct. 2017

Type: Full Time

Duration: 1 year, renewable until 3 years

Starting Date: between January 1, 2018 and April 1, 2018


The Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes (CNRS) invites applications for a Research Fellow (“Ingénieur(e) de recherché en analyse de sources”) for the project “HORAE – Hours, Analysis, Editions” (ANR-17-CE38-0008), under the supervision of Mr. Dominique Stutzmann, Principal Investigator.

Continue reading Job: Research Fellow position for the HORAE project / Ingénieur de recherche pour le projet HORAE

Saint-Omer in the registers of the French royal chancery (99.6% precision!)

As some of the readers will know, I am particularly interested in the city of Saint-Omer in Northern France. This is a good reason to test and search for the first time unknown occurrences of this city, its city officials and chapter officials in the registers of the French royal chancery.

As a matter of fact, the results are quite impressive…

Registrum factum in viagio sancti Audomari (Paris, Archives Nationales, JJ 88)


In total, 173 occurrences are found for “audomarum” OR “audomari” or “audomaro” and 73 occurrences for “saint omer”. I noticed bypassing that “osmer” is also present in the registers, but not in our index (generally silently regularized to “omer”).
Continue reading Saint-Omer in the registers of the French royal chancery (99.6% precision!)

99 pilgrimages / 99 “pelerinage(s)”: accuracy and historical research

Good news! We travelled across the registers, looking for pilgrimages… A search for pilgrimages in the registers of the French royal chancery is a fantastic example of what HIMANIS is bringing to the historians and interested citizens.

Search for “pelerinage” or “pelerinages” with a confidence level as low as 0 gives 54 matches with an average confidence of 46.6. This means 54 registers and 96 pages corresponding to the search, and 99 spotted occurrences. We searched in French only and, here, the results are amazingly accurate: All spotted occurrences are correct! And they even include an occurrence in a black-and-white register, scanned from the microfilm… A very good information for further research.

The table below shows the list of occurrences with direct links. Of course, there are some artefacts and in one occurrence, we see a bizarre result: in which there are two (red) boxes around the word, which is “pelerignage” but has also been indexed as “pelerinage”. In this case, I have to confess that I have clicked on “correct” to confirm the reading, before realizing that it was, technically speaking, not a correct match 😉
Continue reading 99 pilgrimages / 99 “pelerinage(s)”: accuracy and historical research

NEW : improved fonctionalities for correcting query results

We improve the way to correct the results by adding two new functionalities:

1/ After a query, on the spotted words, when you click on the word you are asked if the word is correctly spotted. Not entirely sure of the result you got, we add a third option (“not sure”)  to “correct” or “incorrect”.

2/ When clicking on a word to see if it has been recognized, you have now a dropdown menu suggestions of the recognized word in order of confidence. You can now just select the correct answer from the list rather then typing it. Of course, if none of the suggested result is good you can still type the correct word manually.

The bounding box surrounding the word now appears and they are in color (green, yellow, red or grey) so you can have an idea of the confidence level of the word you are going to select. And don’t worry if the suggest word in the bounding box have nothing to do with the one you clicked: the system will only take into account the pixel on which you clicked on.

Lemmatized search is on it’s way. We are still testing it on a small sample of the corpus but it will be implement in the coming month.

NEW : documents from BNF added to HIMANIS

New documents have just been added to the HIMANIS search engine. The new documents come from BNF digitized microfilm available on Gallica and that are related to the French royal chancery. Those are either originals or copies of chancery registers that are for various reasons located at the BNF rather then at the AN. Actual shelf marks of the chancery registers of the Trésor des Chartes come from the system put in place around 1380 by Gerard of Montaigu in the last version of his inventory of the libri utiles (actual JJ 115) who numbered the registers from I (JJ 11) to CXV (JJ 115). When the JJ serie was organized, between 1852 and 1854, numerous registers where added to the original serie that were not originaly in it:

  • Some came from what was considered by Montaigu as libi inutiles (JJ 42B, 79B, 267 à 270, 288, JJNN et JJOO).
  • Others came from the J serie (JJ 20, 24B -24D, 274 and 304-320) or even P (JJ 30B), Q1 (JJ 24A2) and X (JJ 54B) series.
  • Numerous are inventories and copies from the 13th to the 18th century (JJ 12A-JJ 128, JJ 9A, 9B, 27A-27C, 271-273, 275-303, 534-5884 et JJ A-JJ K).

In 1862 an exchange of documents took place between the AN and the BN and all of the above (except JJ 27C, 272 and 273) have been transferred to the BN in exchange for various inventories (nowadays JJ 12B-127).


– Français 5291 (ex JJ18):

– Français 10187 (ex JJ27B:

– Français 18437 (ex JJ20):

– Latin 9778 (ex JJ27):

– Latin 9784 (original of JJ47 and JJ277):

– Latin 9988 (final copy of JJ30A):

– Latin 9996 (inventory = JJ275 and 276):

– Latin 10919 (ex JJ29):

– Latin 10932 (ex JJ17):

We also add the available chancery formularies and protocols.

Ptotocols and Formularies

– Latin 4763:

– Français 5024: (Formulary of Odart Morchesne, digital edition from ENC

– Français 5030:

– Français 5271:

– Français 5318:

– Français 5727:

– Français 5909:

– Français 6022:

– Français 6142:

– Français 14371 (chancery protocol):

– Français 18674:

Accessing the full text of the Trésor des Chartes’ registers! (beta version)

HIMANIS project

Looking for the word “abbatisse” in plain text of the Tresor des Chartes’ registers

The HIMANIS project is funded by the Joint Programming Initiative on Cultural Heritage and Global Change” (JPI-CH) of the European Union. The partners are developing cost-effective solutions for querying large sets of handwritten document images. It gathers Computer Science, Humanities and Cultural Heritage institutions in order to produce technology to generate new, research-based knowledge from historical manuscripts. As a challenging and particularly interesting case study, the large collection of the Trésor des Chartes’ registers produced by the French royal chancery (Paris, Archives Nationales, JJ35 – JJ211).  The expected outcomes of this project are:

  1. a new indexing/searching technology for historical manuscripts
  2. a new paradigm to study our historical heritage, as conveyed by manuscripts, by using full text search technology.
  3. a new vision of the raise of nation states in Europe via a new study of the corpus under this paradigm.

Now we are proud to announce that we reach the two first goals of our project!  You can search the plain text in the Trésor des Chartes’ registers and provide feedback: It is ready to be used and tested by all interested users worldwide!

You can search the plain text in the Trésor des Chartes’ registers and provide feedback!

How to search?

Query settings

Home page of the HIMANIS indexing and search engine
  • A query box is provided to type the queries
    • The search engine is case insensitive (“Paris” and “paris” retrieve the same results). The search engine allows for “AND”, “OR” and “EXPRESSION” queries (see below).
    • Abbreviations are not queried as they appear in the images; instead the corresponding expanded forms are used. For example, use “paris” to find “Paris”, “par.”, “par^s”, “Pars.”, etc.
    • Query text must be diacritcs-folded (e.g., “sebastien”, rather than “Sébastien”).
  • A confidence box and slider are provided to express a confidence threshold which determines the desired precision-recall tradeoff. The default is 50%. A higher value results in higher precision (little or none wrong spots) and lower recall (some, or many existing instances of the query may not be retrieved); a lower value results in lower precision (some, or many wrong spots) and higher recall (all or most the existing instances can be retrieved).
  • A ‘Max. results’ box is provided to express the maximum number of spots to be retrived and shown. For example, if this number is set to 20 and the confidence is set to 40%, the system shows at most 20 spots with confidence higher than 40%; and if no (or 0) confidence is set, the system retrieves at most 20 spots with the highest confidence.

    Query settings


The search engine allows compound queries (boolean AND, OR, NOT) and “sequences”. For compound queries, the results are computed at Page level, and the number of matches is the total number of word occurrences matching the query.

  • Relations are interpreted at the full page-image level.
  • The operators are: AND: “&&” (or just blank space), OR: “||”, NOT: “-” (before the words which have to be negated). Parenthesis “(“, “)”, can be used for grouping
  • For “Sequence”, the number of match is computed at Page level and one match corresponds to the complete expression.
  • A query can be a sequence of words, expressed using the symbols “[” and “]”. Sequences are not exact strings; they allow (a few) extra words to appear among the stated words. Examples: “[ludovico francorum]” (where “francorum” is an expanded abbreviastion) would retrieve pages with strings such as “ludovico franc.”, “Ludovico rege franc.”, “ludovico dei gra. francorum”, etc. In the current system version, sequences can not be mixed with boolean operators.

Queries: NOT

“france – flandres”: pages with at least one instance of “france” but with no instance of “flandres”

Queries: mixed AND/OR/NOT with parentheses

“paris && (france || flandres)”: pages with at least one instance of “paris” AND at least one instance of either “france” OR “flandres”, or both

Navigation through the results

The current presentation of results is bound by the hierarchy of the collection and we know that it is not always easy to flip through the results. We ask for your patience and your help!

We ask for your patience and your help!

It is possible to:

  1. browse all registers
  2. browse all pages in one register
  3. see the list of registers with the number of matching pages (not the number of matches in the volume)
  4. see the list of pages with the number of matches

Queries are interpreted, and results are shown, hierarchically. For example, assume a collection is composed of many Volumes and each Volume of many Pages. Then, if the query is issued at the top collection level, the system first shows the Volumes where the query may appear with confidence above the threshold specified. Then if the same query is issued for a specific Volume, the system shows all the Pages where the query may appear with a confidence above the threshold. Finally if it is issued for a specific Page, the system shows locations where the words involved in the query may appear. In the PRHLT interface, default levels of the hierarchy are called: “Home”, “Collection”, “Chapter” and “Page”.

The navigation from one page goes either to the previous or the next one in the same volume, or back to a higher level (volume or corpus). There is no possibility to jump directly to the next match.

To go back to the superior level, please navigate with the breadcrumb.

Number of volumes with at least one match (and average confidence)
List of volumes with at least one match and number of pages with at least one match
List of pages in the volume and number of matches on the page
Matches on the page
  1. Miniatures. At each level of the hierarchy (except at the lowest one, the page level), the system shows the elements of this level by means of miniature images, with some information associated; namely,
    1. an identifier of the element,
    2. a bar representing the confidence of the system that the query appears somewhere in this element
    3. the number of elements in the lower level where the query may appear with a confidence above the threshold specified.
  2. By hovering the mouse over the confidence bar, the actual confidence value is shown.
  3. Pan and Zoom: When a (part of a) page image is shown, it can be explored by moving the mouse while holding its right button. In addition, the mouse wheel can be used to zoom in and out.
  4. If a word appears more than once in a text line, only the instance with greatest confidence is shown.
  5. The approximate locations of spotted queries in each page are marked with rectangles (called “bounding boxes”) surrounding the corresponding words. The color of a rectangle expresses the degree of confidence the system has in the corresponding spot. Exact confidence values can be seen by hovering the mouse over the rectangles.

Your feedback is needed!


On the spotted words

When you see the results of a query a “word level”, you can click on the word and you are asked if the word is correctly spotted. Please help us and say “correct” or “incorrect”.

Giving feedback on spotted words

If you see a missed word

In the example below, the word “pedagiis” has been correctly spotted on the lower right part of the image.

Correct and missed matches on one page

If you double-click on the image, you can add the word to our index!

Inserting the correct transcription for a word

Hints for the Chancery collection

  • Click on the Chancery miniature with no query to see the 147 Volumes indexed, each showing the number of images it contains (ranging from less then 100 to more than 1000).
  • Queries can be formulated at any level: full Collection (Chancery), specific Chapter (Volume JJ…), or individual Page.
  • Remember to use the Confidence and/or Max.results levers depending on the precision-recall tradeoff you wish to achieve.
  • The number of the “page” indicated is the number of the file.
  • There are 147 volumes; 32 additionnal volumes are being digitized by the French National Archive

In the near future…

This is a presentation of the Beta Version. In a near future, you will be able to scroll through the results and provide feedback directly on a hit list of the results.

You will be able to get the correct foliation of each image and retrieve metadata from the inventories and text editions.

IRHT’s interface proposal to access the Chancery corpus: aligning and merging early modern inventories (tables of contents), 20th c. inventories and indexes, partial editions, and the result of automated indexing performed in the HIMANIS project

TEI as a format for archive inventories? At which level is the “text”?

As mentioned in previous posts, we are dealing with plenty of inventories in the HIMANIS project: handwritten systematic inventories, printed ones, cardboard files, geographic inventories, indexes, etc.

Now, the issue we have, is of the coherence of the formats we are using. The text edition we use as a training data set and ground truth, namely the Actes royaux du Poitou edited by Paul Guérin and converted by the Ecole nationales des Chartes, is in TEI-P5 format. There are twelve independent TEI files. This is normal because it is a text edition.

But what would you do with inventories? Some are plain text, some are in EAD format. We could convert them to TEI and consider that these inventories are, each of them, one “text”, so that we could convert each of them to a single TEI file, using the <body> to render the core of the inventory.

For the systematic inventories, we also could consider that each of the inventories contains “manuscript descriptions”: each register can be rendered within a <msDesc> and each text is a <msItem> within the <msContents> part.

The volumes which are copied the one from the other (such as JJ 42B and JJ41) makes it difficult to keep the same structure, except if you want to multiply the descriptions, with one <msDesc> for each of the registers and each <msItem> having the same content but the respective foliation.

In HIMANIS, we are making a new choice: considering each volume as a <TEI> entity (combining them thanks to <teiCorpus>), whose text gathers the <group> of all contained royal charters, each of which being a <text>. The abstract and analysis remains in the <front> part, with an empty <body>.

This solution is, obviously, borderline, since we end up having no text in the whole TEI document, but it is an opening towards a future in which the text could be added as if it where a scholarly digital edition. On the top of that, of course, it allows us to homogenize all source formats, including the text editions, at the (almost) the same level towards an integrated environment. (Not exactly the same level, since the <TEI> file for Guérin is one volume of the edition, not one volume of the register).
For all comments of the community, we are grateful!

Named entities and ground-truth: progress report

The research project started on November 1st, 2015. We are now describing the first steps undertaken during the first 3 months of the HIMANIS project are the following: the partners created the CHANCERY corpus (Archives nationales, JJ 35 to JJ 91) and associated the ground-truth with the images. They also acquired the necessary linguistic resources and formatted them in order to apply them to the automated indexing. At the same time, they created a dictionary of named entities with a dual objective: on the one hand, allow for a better indexing, and, on the other hand, provide a tool for accuracy measure. This dictionary is mainly based on the diverse regional systematic surveys : Gascogne; Languedoc and Rouergue; Berry, Blésois, Chartrain, Orléanais, Touraine.
While working on these resources, we are moving from a linear and self-contained work and go to a direct index to spot on which page of which register, one can find a specific named entity.

The ground-truth is drawn from the large collection of Paul Guérin, Recueil des documents concernant le Poitou contenus dans les registres de la Chancellerie de France, 12 vol.

as it has been digitally edited by Ecole nationale des chartes:

In parallel, they started the automated segmentation per line and words of their systems as well as the automated indexing, either based on first optical models or based on text-image alignment.

A great start


Paris, Archives Nationales, JJ 35, fol. 5r (en ligne sur le site des Archives nationales). Reproduction by permission (see conditions on the website:

This week, we had our kick-off meeting! It is a great fun to gather all the partners from the Netherlands, Spain and France.

This is the occasion to give some specific information about our corpus, aka “the Chancery corpus” or short “Chancery”. It already encompasses the high resolution digitized images of the registers from the French royal chancery, covering the period from 1211 to 1363, with the shelfmarks Paris, Archives nationales, JJ 7 to JJ 91. The full inventory is online : and a fair part of this collection is already freely available to the public on the website of the French National Archive with more detailled descriptions for each volume from JJ 7 to JJ 56 (see

For our team, the core corpus only covers the period 1302-1363 with the registers stricto sensu, but wouldn’t it be a pity to let the first part of the digitized material without indexation?

We are very happy to thank the French National Archive for its very generous and ongoing support. Not only they provide us with full resolution images for our scientific research, but they keep digitizing. In two years from now, the HIMANIS team and the Archives nationales will be glad to let everyone search directly in the text of this wonderful resource!

As for now, how should we start? Is there a better way than quoting the first charter of the first volume (JJ 35, fol. 5r), the reform order of 1303, whose preamble is all about starting a new way of life?

Nos, Philippus Dei gratia Francorum rex, pro reformatione regni nostri, quod retroactis temporibus gravatum extitit adversitatibus temporum et guerrarum ac pluribus aliis contrariosis eventibus, deliberatione provida fecimus aliquas ordinationes et statuta utilia et salubria pro gubernatione ac bono statu regni predicti, pro pace etiam ac transquillitate subjectorum nostrorum, sicut inferius continetur…