About Us

"Lives in Turkish" is an ongoing research project held at Boğaziçi University that investigates the journey of life-writing in Turkish. We compile a bibliography of biographies published in Turkish since the early 1800s. The dataset comprises meta-data about the biographical volumes and biography subjects. The collection includes biographies translated into Turkish and works originally written by Turkish life-writers. As the project lists publications that came out before and after 1928 Turkish Language Reform, the scope of research encompasses not only Turkish-language works published in Latin Alphabet, but also those published in Ottoman and Armenian script. The data is collected from a selection of online library catalogues, print catalogues, and archival material on Turkish literary history (e.g. critical volumes, encyclopedias, annual records of publishing houses).


In this respect, not only the sporadic data available online is brought together and categorized, but also the data that has so far been available only in archival print sources is digitized. In addition to the reference details of the publications, numerous types of meta-data about the biographies are recorded. The dataset includes information about: further editions, retranslations, book covers, table of contents, preface, and reviews. For detailed information about data collection, categorization, search tips please see Guidelines.


"Lives Collection" aims to illuminate the topic of life-writing in Turkish in various contexts. Some of these can be: the popularization and de-popularization of biography in certain historical periods; the dynamics between the products of Ottoman-Turkish forms of life-writing and biographies written in the modern Western form; the points of interaction between the translated biographies and indigenous ones; the biography subjects introduced to the Turkish reader with a particular focus on their work field, region, and time period. Setting out from the collected data, the project has been investigating these macro-contexts by means of several methods of data visualization. This scope includes story maps, time series, and network graphs. As the data collection continues, we will keep updating our graphs, as well as proposing new ones. All of these are available at Data Visualization. We will also experiment alternative methods of visualization and portray some micro-scale case-studies. In doing so, our ultimate aim is to bring out a historical survey of the genre of biography in the Turkish literary system and explore the potentials of digital approaches in the domain of translation history. For further information on digital translation history, digital humanities tools and sources please see Resources. We will also share news, events, and new publications on DH, life-writing, and translation history at News.


We are using a customized database software and it still being enhanced by our software team. At the moment, our software allows the users to filter the data according to several parameters related to the publications and biography subjects. The data related to the biography subjects can be filtered by: region, field, and/or century; whereas the further filter options for the dataset of publications are: the type of publication (i.e. translation, original or unidentified); original language (if translation); language and script of publication (if published before 1928 Alphabet Reform); which specific sub-genre of Turkish-Ottoman life-writing that the publication pertains to (i.e. tezkire, menakıbname, tercüme-i hal, encyclopedia); year of publication.


At the moment our collection includes biographical volumes published in book form. In the months to come, we will integrate other types of material in our corpus and hope to present them in an efficient and user-friendly way.



We'd like to thank our librarians at Boğaziçi University Library for all their help and guidance with data collection and documentation; ISAM Library and IBB Atatürk Library for kindly opening their biography collections to us; Boğaziçi University Department of Translation and Interpreting Studies for their invaluable support. This project is supported by Boğaziçi University Research Fund (#14921).


Our database is dynamic. We encourage the researchers to revisit the website for updates. The collection is open to everyone interested!


REFERENCES (Selection)


Berk Albachten, Özlem and Şehnaz Tahir Gürçağlar (2019). The making and reading of a bibliography of retranslations. In Özlem Berk Albachten and Şehnaz Tahir Gürçağlar (Eds.), Perspectives on retranslation: Ideology, paratexts, methods (pp. 212-230). London & New York: Routledge.


Caine, B. (2010). Biography and history. Basingstoke;New York: Palgrave Macmillan.


Dougherty, J. & K. Nawrotzki (Eds.) (2013). Writing history in the digital age. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press.


Folsom, E. (2007). Database as genre: The epic transformation of archives. Pmla, 122(5), 1571-1579. doi:10.1632/pmla.2007.122.5.1571


Grossman, J. (2012). Big Data: An opportunity for historians? Perspectives on History, 50(3) (March). Retrieved from https://www.historians.org/publications-and- directories/perspectives-on-history/march-2012/big-data-an-opportunity-for- historians


Hitchcock, T. (2013). Confronting the digital: Or how academic history writing lost the plot. Cultural and Social History, 1(10), 9-23.


Jockers, M. L. (2013; 2014). Macroanalysis: Digital methods and literary history. Baltimore: University of Illinois Press. doi:10.5406/j.ctt2jcc3m


Manovich, L. (2000). Database as a genre of new media. AI & Society, 14(2), 176-183. doi:10.1007/BF01205448


Manovich, L. (2001). The language of new media. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.


Maurois, A. & Roberts, S. C. (1930). Aspects of biography. New York: D. Appleton & Company.


Moretti, F. (2007). Graphs, maps, trees: Abstract models for a literary history. London: Verso.


Wakabayashi, J. (2019). Digital approaches to translation history. Translation & Interpreting, the, 11(2), 132-145. doi:10.12807/ti.111202.2019.a11

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