The ESPOSALLES database: An ancient marriage license corpus for off-line handwriting recognition

Verónica Romero, Alicia Fornés, Nicolás Serrano, Joan Andreu Sánchez, Alejandro H. Toselli, Volkmar Frinken, Enrique Vidal, Josep Lladós

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69 Citations (Scopus)


Historical records of daily activities provide intriguing insights into the life of our ancestors, useful for demography studies and genealogical research. Automatic processing of historical documents, however, has mostly been focused on single works of literature and less on social records, which tend to have a distinct layout, structure, and vocabulary. Such information is usually collected by expert demographers that devote a lot of time to manually transcribe them. This paper presents a new database, compiled from a marriage license books collection, to support research in automatic handwriting recognition for historical documents containing social records. Marriage license books are documents that were used for centuries by ecclesiastical institutions to register marriage licenses. Books from this collection are handwritten and span nearly half a millennium until the beginning of the 20th century. In addition, a study is presented about the capability of state-of-the-art handwritten text recognition systems, when applied to the presented database. Baseline results are reported for reference in future studies. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1658-1669
JournalPattern Recognition
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2013


  • Handwritten text recognition
  • Hidden Markov models
  • Marriage register books
  • Neural networks


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