OldVisOnline: Curating a Dataset of Historical Visualizations

Yu Zhang, Ruike Jiang, Liwenhan Xie, Yuheng Zhao, Can Liu, Tianhong Ding, Siming Chen, Xiaoru Yuan

Room: 109

2023-10-25T03:36:00ZGMT-0600Change your timezone on the schedule page
Exemplar figure, described by caption below
The image gallery interface of OldVisOnline contains images and corresponding metadata of 13K historical visualizations published before 1950 that we curate from various data sources. The user can search and filter metadata fields of historical visualizations.
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Historical visualization, dataset, digital humanities, data labeling


With the increasing adoption of digitization, more and more historical visualizations created hundreds of years ago are accessible in digital libraries online. It provides a unique opportunity for visualization and history research. Meanwhile, there is no large-scale digital collection dedicated to historical visualizations. The visualizations are scattered in various collections, which hinders retrieval. In this study, we curate the first large-scale dataset dedicated to historical visualizations. Our dataset comprises 13K historical visualization images with corresponding processed metadata from seven digital libraries. In curating the dataset, we propose a workflow to scrape and process heterogeneous metadata. We develop a semi-automatic labeling approach to distinguish visualizations from other artifacts. Our dataset can be accessed with OldVisOnline, a system we have built to browse and label historical visualizations. We discuss our vision of usage scenarios and research opportunities with our dataset, such as textual criticism for historical visualizations. Drawing upon our experience, we summarize recommendations for future efforts to improve our dataset.