Expanding Our Use of Public Meeting Minutes


Beyond voting records, public meeting minutes have become a key source of political participation data for many researchers within local politics. Their ability to provide records of individual participation and identifying characteristics such as one’s name, address, and original comment has made them invaluable to the study of urban politics. However, finding, scraping, and transforming these meeting minutes into sufficiently detailed and usable data has historically been a labor-intensive task due to how meeting minutes are recorded and stored. This paper attempts to accomplish two goals. The first goal is to set a framework for using public meeting minutes and provide an initial guide for researchers trying to use them. The second is to present a streamlined process to parse meeting minutes through an application of named-entity recognition. To contextualize both goals, I provide a case study from St. Louis County that examines public meeting participants across three distinct levels of local government.

Lucas D. Boschelli
Lucas D. Boschelli
Ph.D. Candidate

My research interests include distributed robotics, mobile computing and programmable matter.