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History Data Service news

Latest news from the History Data Service (HDS), or of interest to HDS users.

Georeferencing maps online - will it work?

The British Library is asking the online public to georeference some of the treasures of British mapping.

The maps included represent a very small sample. The Ordnance Survey Drawings are some of the most enquired-after maps the British Library hosts, being unique manuscript documents that portray the lanscape of England and Wales before the onslaught of industrialisation made its mark.

The other collection included in this effort is a selection of the Crace Collection of Maps of London. These maps are more difficult to georeference, and the British Library is eager to see how others fare with them.

The project web page is - there is a short video there and detailed instructions. Access is also available from within the map pages in the Online Gallery.

SN 6880 -Credit Finance in the Middle Ages: Loans to the English Crown, 1272-1340

HDS has released a new dataset which tracks the credit arrangements made between the English Crown and a number of Italian merchant societies between 1272 and 1340. Collected and assembled by Professor Chris Brooks, Professor Adrian Bell and Dr. Tony Moore at the ICMA Centre at the University of Reading, the data not only reveals the financial figures but also serves as a contribution to a cultural history of the medieval finance sector. The dataset's catalogue entry can be found at here where further information about the study and how it can be downloaded are available.

Old Weather - Our Weather's Past, the Climate's Future

The JISC-funded Old Weather project is looking for volunteers for the transcription of weather observations made by Royal Navy ships around the time of World War I. The aims of the project are to construct historical climate models and to track past ship movements and the stories of the people on board.

Weber Letters Database

The Max Weber Studies website hosts the Max Weber Letters Database (WLD). This project has been funded by the ESRC and the research conducted by Dr Sam Whimster. Users have open access to the database which is supplied with easy to use search tools. Letters can be selected through a number of filters: author, date, recipient, place, or word(s) from the abstract. Once selected, information about the letter(s) is displayed on-screen according to the abovementioned fields. The screen display can be saved and printed out. In addition, the archive reference is given for the letter and any corresponding publication reference of the particular letter. All substantive words in the abstracts are searchable (though all neutral words like ‘is’, ‘the’, etc. have been removed).

There are extant more than 3,500 Weber letters. Over the last 20 years the Max Weber Gesamtausgabe (in its section 2) has published the letters for the period starting 1906 and finishing end of 1917. This is the only reliable source of published letters. Marianne Weber had many of her husband’s letters transcribed and published in her biography of Max Weber. However these transcriptions are not 100% accurate and she used them selectively in her publications.

WLD supplies details of some 2000 Weber letters. WLD is not a translation project, though where the investigator has access to reliable translations these have been included. WLD is a valuable research tool which is able to direct a researcher, instantly, to possibly relevant letter material. In this sense it performs an intermediary function, pointing the user to published sources or to the unpublished archive source.

The ideal situation would be a complete English edition of Weber letters, which were accessible through another version of WLD. Unfortunately, this will not happen soon. A Weber letter, obviously, is part of a correspondence that has a specific context. The Max Weber Gesamtausgabe painstakingly documents every feature of this context and the letter volumes published to date are scholarly works of art, the richness of whose content has yet to be appreciated and used by social scientists. In the meantime WLD provides the Anglophone world with the best access to date.

The Max Weber Studies website will shortly be opening an academic blog to allow users and scholars a forum to discuss existing materials. Also, WLD welcomes the addition of a further tranches of Weber letters as well as links to cognate databases and publications of Weber’s contemporaries – e.g. Ernst Troeltsch, Edgar Jaffé, Ferdinand Toennies.

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