In 2014, the Regional Archive of the Dutch city of Tilburg made its genealogical records available as Open Data. By doing so, the archive wants to promote new and stimulating innovative applications for its data. Willem Vermeulen, a student at the University of Amsterdam took up this challenge and used the data for his thesis on the migration movements in the regions of Tilburg and Rotterdam.
For his research, he used records on major life events of the citizens such as birth, marriage or passing and combined this with location where the ‘act’ was registered. Using algorithms, anonymised acts for the period 1815-1900 were analysed and mapped into a family tree of 1.6 million persons. A process only made possible with the data being machine readable information, instead of the original images. The analysis led to a number of interesting findings, for example that men appear to have migrated more than women during the period. Another discovered trend consisted of the increasing importance of Rotterdam as a migration destination.
With his thesis, the author wants to explore the possibilities of quantitative historical research to shed light on certain subjects or contribute to existing qualitative research. To continue with this exploration, he hopes that more Open Data will be published in this field. This innovative use of a dataset once more shows the versatility of Open Data and how publishers can benefit from sharing their data.
Want to know more about the research or the methodology used? An abstract of "Domestic migration in the Tilburg region and Rotterdam between 1815 and 1900: a data-driven analysis" is available by following the link below.