New sources for historical demographic research

Session for the International Commission for Historical Demography

Organized by Lisa Dillon, Sören Edvinsson and Kees Mandemakers


During the last thirty years, a large number of historical databases have been developed which feature a substantial range and amount of personal data. Such databases include the Swedish databases of Lund, Stockholm and Umea, the Canadian census and parish register databases of Victoria, Toronto, Chicoutimi and Montréal, the IPUMS database of the U.S. census in Minneapolis (Integrated Public Use Micro-data Series), the Historical Sample of the Netherlands, and the Verviers-database of Belgium. This list is not complete and still new databases are being developed.

A relatively new development in this field is the archiving of digital microdata sets of modern censuses. Since the 1960s, all modern censuses have been stored on magnetic tapes or in digital form. The condition of these digital archives vary per country. Unique is the effort of IPUMS-International to inventory, preserve, harmonize, and disseminate samples from census digital microdata from around the world.

In this session we will concentrate on two issues: a) the availability and contents of microdata sets and what can we investigate with these data in a global sense and; b) some more general research subjects which have been addressed through the use of population microdata.


A.  Reconstructing data into other formats or levels of analysis

Chair: Kees Mandemakers, International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam (The Netherlands)
Commentator: Gunnar Thovaldson, University of Tromsø (Norway)
  1. Peter Doorn (NIWI-KNAW Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Amsterdam)
    Luuk Schreven (Statistics Netherlands, The Hague)
    Explorations of multi-level methods and ecological inference techniques in the analysis of 'Life Courses in Context' (abstract, doc, 26Kb) (paper, pdf, 255Kb)
  2. Suzanne Ander-Peciva (University of Umea)
    The Construction of longitudinal databases (paper, doc, 1.85Mb)
  3. Robert McCaa (University of Minnesota)
    Steven Ruggles (Minnesota Population Center)
    Matthew Sobek (Minnesota Population Center)
    The IPUMS-International, IPUMS-USA and the North Atlantic Population Project: Challenges of Harmonizing Census Micro-data across Time and Place (abstract, doc, 20Kb) (paper, pdf, 78Kb)

B.  Confidentiality, public policy and electronic micro-datasets

Chair: Lisa Dillon, Université de Montreal (Canada)
Commentator: Frank Jones, University of Queensland (Australia)
  1. Bob McCaa (University of Minnesota)
    Agnes Odinga (Department of History, Hamline University)
    Statistical Confidentiality and the Dissemination of Restricted-Access Integrated Census Microdata Extracts: The Case of Kenya, 1969-1999 (abstract, pdf, 459Kb)(paper, pdf, 459Kb)
  2. Eric Schulte Nordholt (Statistics Netherlands, The Hague)
    The Dutch Virtual Census 2001: A New Approach by Combining Different Sources (abstract, doc, 22Kb) (paper, doc, 352Kb)
  3. Chad Gaffield (University of Ottawa)
    Ethics, Technology, and Confidential Research Data: The case of the Canadian Century Research Infrastructure Project (abstract, doc, 20Kb) (paper, doc, 1.50Mb)

C.  Micro-data and new developments in historical demographic research

Chair: Bob McCaa, University of Minnesota (United States)
Commentator: Peter Sköld, University of Umea (Sweden)
  1. Lisa Dillon (Université de Montréal)
    Researching households in the French and English Canadian Context: record linkage of the 1871-1881 Canadian Censuses (abstract, doc, 21Kb) (paper, doc, 109Kb)
  2. Sören Edvinsson (University of Umea)
    The history of health and mortality. What can micro-data tell us? (abstract, doc, 24Kb) (paper, doc, 176Kb)
  3. Kees Mandemakers (International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam)
    New kinds of research with the Historical Sample of the Netherlands (abstract, doc, 21Kb) (paper, pdf, 822Kb)
  4. Glenda Strachan (Griffith University, Australia)
    Reconstructing a Rural Community: the Use of Civil Registration Data (abstract, doc, 27Kb) (paper, pdf, 56Kb)

D.  Micro-data database and new developments in GIS-applications

Chair: Sören Edvinsson, University of Umea (Sweden)
Commentator: Luuk Schreven (Statistics Netherlands, The Hague)
  1. Gunnar Thorvaldsen (University of Tromsø)
    Place as a focal point for census data ( abstract, doc, 21Kb) (paper, pdf, 44Kb) (powerpoint, ppt, 8.95Mb)
  2. Isabelle Séguy (Université de Nice Sophia Antipolis)
    M. Signoli (Université de la Méditerranée Marseille)
    S. Tzortzis (service archéologique, Ville de Martigues)
    La diffusion spatiale des épidémies (peste, variole) dans la ville de Martigues (France, Bouches-du-Rhône) dans le 1er quart du XVIIIe siècle (abstract, doc, 23Kb) (paper/english, pdf, 863Kb) (paper/français, pdf, 866Kb)
  3. Xaviera Torres Joerges (University of Oulu, Finland)
    Milton Núñez (University of Oulu, Finland)
    Morbidity and mortality in Finland based on parish death-cause registers from 1750-1850 ( abstract, doc, 23Kb) ( paper, doc, 1,38Mb)
  4. Humphrey Southall (Department of Geography, Univerity of Portsmouth)
    Putting People into Past Places: Geographical information and British longitudinal microdata (paper A, doc, 146Kb) (Also: paper B, pdf, 207Kb)
Last updated: 3 April 2013