The Barcelona Historical Marriages Database (BHMD): a new research infrastructure for historical demography

Anna Cabré, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Joana-Maria Pujadas-Mora, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

The Barcelona Historical Marriage Database (BHMD) is the main product of the project "Five Centuries of Marriages" - 5CofM (ERC-2010-Advanced Grant-269796, IP: Anna Cabré), launched in May 2011 and coming soon to an end. The project has been carried jointly by researchers of the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), the Centre for Demographic Studies (CED) and the Centre for Computer Vision (CVC). The BHMD compiles the information contained in 291 books of marriage licenses (Llibres d'Esposalles) conserved at the Barcelona Cathedral, that is, some 615.000 marriages celebrated between 1451 and 1905 in the 250 parishes of the Diocese, from the most rural villages in its periphery to the urban core of the city. Because the Llibres d'Esposalles were initially created as the instrument of a tax-collecting system on marriages, with different fee tiers according the socio-economic standing of the couple, they provide an exceptional insight on the social structures of the past defined by the own criteria of each period. During five years, a research team combining historians, demographers and computer scientists have developed methods and instruments enabling the construction of the database by over 150 remote transcribers using a web-based crowdsourcing platform. Besides the experimentation on the collaborative transcription paradigm the platform main advantages are the centralized management of tasks and monitoring of work, assisting error detection and correction. The platform includes functionalities of standardization and harmonization for names, surnames, occupations and geographical locations. Presently undergoing a thorough revision, the BHMD is expected to be ready for use by the scientific community at the end 2016. At the time of the celebration of the EPC-2016 at Mainz, in September, the authors will certainly be in the position of giving the practical details for the access and use of this new and unique research infrastructure.

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Presented in Poster Session 1