Interoperating Irish Death and Census Data, 1864-1922

Ciara Breathnach, University of Limerick

This paper will provide an overview of an Irish Research Council funded project entitled Death and Burial Data, Ireland 1864-1922 (DBDIrl). DBDIrl proposes to create and analyse the relationships between individual level historic death and burial data to understand how biopower advanced in Ireland, how its dynamics operated regionally and from a gendered perspective. It is to state and judicial instruments of civil registration (birth, death and marriage registration), census returns and court records that this project turns as primary sources. DBDIrl aims to create linkages between historical registered deaths, census and burial data. By taking death and burial as key themes this study adopts a ‘life events’ approach to the study of social class, gender and power in Ireland from macro and micro-history perspectives. It also represents an entirely new framework for Irish historiography, by not only providing linkages between bodies of data that were previously discrete, but also by offering a much more accurate series of datasets for analysis. DBDIrl uses pre-digitised, openly available data, which currently exist in separate silos. Using linked data techniques to render these siloed data ‘interoperable’, DBDIrl aims to yield new knowledge about biopower behaviours. By placing the history of individual bodies and lives at the core of this research it will offer new ways of understanding death and the treatment of the dead body from civil, secular and religious perspectives.

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 Presented in Session 78. Big Data in Historical Research