Archives Unit Dashboard

Launched in December 2021, the Archives Unit Dashboard gathers more than two million digitised documents from the years 1952 to 1994. On this site, documents from the Common Assembly of the European Coal and Steel Community, the Ad Hoc Assembly and the European Parliament (until the end of the first term after direct elections) are now readily available to the public for download. It is hoped that this tool will help democratise knowledge of European Parliament history and become an invaluable resource to researchers and citizens alike.

Visualisation of number of documents in the Archives by yearA data visualisation produced by the Archives Unit dashboard. To export any visualisation, select it, open the menu option that appears on the top right-hand side and choose ‘Export to CSV’ or ‘Export to Excel’ (Note: Exporting to XSLX is only available for pivot tables and table charts).

The Dashboard provides an overview of available materials, with clear graphics showing the proportion of documents in various languages, the types of documents (written questions, oral interventions etc.), the years these documents were created, and more.

Visualisation of the number of documents by typeA data visualisation produced by the Archives Unit dashboard. To export any visualisation, select it, open the menu option that appears and choose ‘Export to CSV’ or ‘Export to Excel’ (Note: exporting to XSLX is only available for pivot tables and table charts).

Documents can be narrowed by these criteria, but those looking for information that is more specific may be interested in the search tool, which can search keywords in document titles and specify results by institution or by particular archival classification codes.

Full text files and automated summaries of oral interventions from 1958 and 1959 are also available. To access these, select “PE0” as your chosen Fond in the search engine and narrow your results to the choose “summarized content” as your preferred file type.

In the latest update, an interactive map shows which countries the Archives Unit has received requests from and the number of requests from each country. Figures are also now available of how many requests the Unit has received in any given year and from which types of organisations (e.g. research laboratories, national chambers, civil society) these requests originated. This gives a fascinating insight into the collaborative work of Archives Unit and the European Parliament with educational and civil institutions worldwide who share an interest in, and passion for, the history of the European Parliament.

Another new tool has also been introduced: a text summariser. This can be used to create summaries of Word or PDF files in in any language and after choosing how long you would like the summary to be (as a percentage of the length of the original text), the new text can be copied.

Both of these new features can be accessed by changing your selected view in the menu in the top right-hand corner.

Visualisation of number of requests by organisation

The new Dashboard opens the history of the European Parliament to people all around the world.

You can visit the dashboard here.

Video Tutorial

This tutorial video explains how to search documents of the Historical Archives of the European Parliament. Making almost one million documents from 1952 to 1984 accessible to you, this tool helps you explore 70 years of European democracy.

The Archives Content Search Dashboard

The latest update to the Dashboard is the Archives Content Search Dashboard, which focuses on 38,000 original documents containing European Parliament motions of resolutions, written questions, oral questions and responses to questions from 1958-1984.

A variety of new tools helps citizens and other researchers explore this aspect of European Parliament history, both by making these documents more accessible and showing developments in what Members of Parliament discussed and debated in this time. Let’s take a look at these tools here: 

Transport, agricole, emploi: What words appear most frequently in motions for resolutions and parliamentary questions?

The “Top words” interactive word cloud offers an insight into the subjects of European Parliament motions for resolutions and MEP's questions in the European Parliament over the years. Clicking on a word in the “top word” cloud will show all documents that contain that word, in order of the frequency of that word in the document.

The 'Top Word' cloudThe “Top Word” word cloud: see what words appear most frequently, and find related documents to learn more about the topic from motions for resolutions and parliamentary questions.

Want to search for a particular word? Click Controls > Select Top words (1) and enter the word you want to look for.

What topics have dominated in Parliament?

For a closer look at the development of topics over the years, the “Dominant Topic” feature of the Dashboard is particularly useful. The motions for resolutions and parliamentary questions have been grouped into eleven “dominant topics”, labelled numerically, which have been generated through a statistical analysis of the language used.

The Dashboard's 'dominant topics'

Using statistical modelling, the Archives Content Search Dashboard identifies eleven main topics from 1958-1984. Documents are grouped into topics based on similarities in words used and other connections in the vocabulary.

To see if a document relates to a particular topic, the column “Dominant topic” in the search result list gives the number of the topic that the document is most related to, while “Probability” indicates the probability of the document belonging to that topic.

Want to deep dive into a subject? Find related documents.

It is also now possible to find other motions for resolutions and parliamentary questions related to particular question.

How it works is simple: to find related documents, click Controls > Select action to trigger when clicking a row > Search for similar documents. Now when you click on a document in the search, the Dashboard will generate a list of related parliamentary questions and motions for resolutions. This list is ordered in terms of similarity.

The number of documents per year

Want to learn more about a topic? See what other MEPs debated and discussed with a particular subject? Search for similar documents using the Archives Content Search Dashboard.

The similarity score is given on the column on the right hand side. Similarity is determined not only by linguistic similarity between the two documents in terms of repeating the same words, but by identifying connections between different words. 

For example: an original document and similar documents both have a high frequency of the word ‘agriculture’ will be identified as being related to each other. However, by looking at statistics of the connections between words, even where key terms aren’t used in both the original document, documents may still be considered similar. In our example: the original parliamentary question with a high frequency of ‘agriculture’ may still be considered similar to a document that talks about ‘dairy’ without the use of the word ‘agriculture’, because there have already been many documents that link ‘dairy’ with ‘agriculture’.

Further technical details can be found under the “Process details” tab.

How can I further analyse motions for resolutions and parliamentary questions?

Intertopic distance visualisation

In short, the topics mentioned above have been identified by groups of words that appear together frequently. The two graphs on this page are now trying to answer three questions: what the meaning of each topic is, how prevalent each topic is, and how the topics relate to each other.

On the left is the topic model which shows prevalent a topic is and how the topics relate to each other. In this view, topics are presented as circles on a two-dimensional plane. Their centres are determined by computing the “distance” between topics, that is, how similar documents are based on the terms or words used in them. The graph tells us each topic’s overall prevalence using the areas of the circles.  For example, we can see that topic four is quite limited, whereas topic two is less specific in nature, and shares things in common with topics eight, twenty-six and twenty.

Intertopic Distance VisualisationThe intertopic distance visualisation displays topics and relevant terms from the Archives Unit documents, identified by a statistical analysis.

On the right hand side, we are looking at what the meaning of each topic is. We can see the top 20 most relevant terms for each topic. The width of the grey bars represent the corpus-wide frequencies of each term, and the width of the red bars represent the topic-specific frequencies of each term. This helps us know how relevant a term is to a specific topic for two reasons: firstly, a high ratio of red to grey indicates a high probability of a term appearing within a particular topic, compared to the probability of this appearing in any document across the corpus. Secondly, you can simply see the probability of this term occurring in a document of a topic, just by the absolute width of the red.

The slider allows you to change the value of the relevance metric. It adjusts the relevance of a term in relation to the corpus, and the topic. While '1' here indicates the frequency of a term relative to 100% of the corpus of documents, we might identify terms more specific to a topic by bringing it down to '0', that is, just within this topic.

If you want to look at the documents related to a topic, you can return to the search function on the dashboard. Under dominant topic, you can select the number of the topic. With topic four, for example, we can already see a theme: one question concerns the price of margarine, another a minimum price for fruits and vegetables and another, the production of cereal in Italy.

Alternative topics visualisation

The alternative topics visualisation is another way to look at the usage of words across topics, and across all documents in the corpus. This graph maps the terms used in this topic along two axes. The vertical axis measures how frequently the terms appear in this topic, while the horizontal axis indicates how frequently these terms appear in all documents.

Alternative topics visualisationThe Alternative Topics Visualization is another way of looking at the frequency of words across the Archives Unit corpus.

So, for example, on the left hand side we see words that appear frequently in a specific topic, but not generally across motions for resolutions and parliamentary questions, while on the right hand side we see terms that frequently occur. It also highlights terms that may not appear frequently in the text but, since they appear rarely across all documents, may still be of interest.

The most common terms for the topic, and the dashboard generally, are summarized on the right-hand side.

For further information about the dashboard terms, the dataset info tab gives the definitions of the terms used.

Video Tutorial

With the aid of analytical tools, this Dashboard helps you examine 38,000 motions for resolutions and parliamentary questions from the Archives of the European Parliament and identify topics that have affected Members and citizens over more than 20 years of parliamentary activity from 1958 to 1984.