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Digital forum – Processing the [Victorian] past

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The August 2010 issue of the Journal of Victorian Culture has a digital forum in which the quantitative research of digital resources is discussed. There are three contributions which document both the production of such resources and their uses. Richard Deswarte focuses on the holdings of the History Data Service, which preserves and disseminates a collection of almost 700 mainly quantitative datasets, and considers what makes a useful quantitative data source. He discusses, among others, two particular population sites – Histpop – The Online Historical Population Reports Website and the Contemporary and Historical Census Collections (CHCC).

Alexis Weedon explores the production of resources suitable for quantitative research and then considers the use of geographical information (GIS) to argue for greater convergence between types of databases. Her examples include nineteenth-century literature and reading habits, such as the Nineteenth Century Short Title Catalogue and The Reading Experience Database.

Finally Michaela Mahlberg offers an introduction to corpus linguistics, exploring what corpus approaches can offer existing research methodologies in literary studies. Methods of gathering corpora through text searches of the internet are discussed, as are the special considerations when searching in nineteenth-century texts.

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