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

Online services unavailable on 27 August 2011

Online services including access to web pages, login and download will be unavailable on 27 August 2011.

On Saturday 27 August the HDS webpage will be unavailable between 08.00 and 18.00 because of the shutdown of the electricity supply to the University of Essex. Services will also be at risk on 28 and 29 August due to the extended bank holiday weekend.

This will also affect the UK Data Archive, ESDS, UKDA-store, Survey Resources Network, Relu-DSS, Census.ac.uk, Secure Data Service, and Nesstar websites.

We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

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.

I-CeM: £1m landmark history grant for Essex

A University of Essex led census project is set to create an unparalleled historical research resource that will transform our understanding of a 60 year period of British history.
The £1.06m project, a collaboration between the university’s History Department and the UK Data Archive , which is also based at the Essex campus, will bring together more than 200 million individual records from the censuses for Great Britain for the period 1851-1911.
The so-called Integrated Census Microdata (I-CeM) project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). It represents the largest collection of its kind in the world and will be unique in that it represents the entire British population, not just a sample. The ESRC grant comes just a few weeks after the university’s History research was ranked 2nd in the UK in the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE).
Professor K. Schürer, and Dr Edward Higgs are leading the project, which also has the backing of a number of non-academic partners including findmypast.com, The National Archives, the British Library and the Office for National Statistics. Professor Schürer said: ‘These records contain vast amounts of information on every house, household and individual in the country and are the basis of much of our knowledge of changing social and economic structures over this period. Bringing them together will completely transform our ability to research this period.’
I-CeM will combine computerised versions of the censuses that have been created by public and commercial bodies at a cost over many years of more than 11 million pounds. Professor Schürer added: ‘What we are doing is creating a fantastic historical resource for use by UK and international researchers, teachers, students and others for educational purposes at a fraction of the money that has been spent by others in this field to date. This will put British social scientific research at the forefront of international efforts in this field.’
Once the project is complete, I-CeM will enable researchers in a wide variety of fields from economics, human geography, and sociology to social and economic history and related areas such as health studies and epidemiology to carry out studies of the highest quality. It’s also expected to open up new fields of research and it’s hoped that ultimately, if further funding can be found, may lead to the creation of a Victorian Panel Survey.

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