Dutch archives are opening up their data for re-use. This makes that anybody, from hobbyists to professionals, from societies to commercial companies can download/harvest and use the data without any restrictions to make new innovative products, get new insights from the data or combine it with other data sets.

The big genealogical data collections (the meta-data from birth, marriage and deathrecords) inspired me to make a new kind of genealogical search engine. With each new dataset I got new ideas on how to present data and what I could do with the data. Archives (and their) suppliers have limited resources (money, knowledge and vision) so their solutions are usually basic in functionality and limited to their own dataset. With open data we now have we can change this, we can innovate in this area!

End users can search the genealogical data by name and year, filter by place and source type and look at the historical records and scans. Open Archives is a user-friendly, standards based, multilingual website which works on smartphones, tablets, laptops and PCs (responsive design). The records can be collected, commented on and downloaded in PDF or GEDCOM.

Users are given hints about the location of more information about the persons, eg. with a birth certificate the marriage and death certificates are automatically looked up. Also links to external services are provided, for example links to online grave sites, biographies, old maps and online family trees. Contextual information is added to the records, like information about the weather, information about the place from census data and historic maps with street highlighting. Users can explore the most common family names, places and professions for places and/or periods in time, this provides other ways of looking at the datasets which previously where not available.

Open Archives also offers API’s and open data, so besides a portal it's also an aggregator which others can use. A lot of the functionality of Open Archives is available for other developers to use (see http://www.openarch.nl/api/docs/). All data is made available for harvesting by others (see http://www.openarch.nl/api/docs/oai-pmh/).

The feature I'm most proud of is the linking algoritm. This shows that you can link records within particular dataset, but if you add more archives and external datasets, even more links can be automagically made. This is of great benefit to researchers/genealogists. Most of them know of to search for more information, but now that part is automated! You can even construct family relations automatically from the archival records, but visualisation become more challenging as can be seen in this example: https://www.openarch.nl/poc/links/?archive=gsd&lang=en&identifier=BD171CF4-0A41-463C-B112-047A6A95EC15&depth=4

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