workshop programme

legacy4reuse - Criteria and Methods for Upcycling Data Collections in Social and Economic History

Online Workshop, 23 November 2023, 9 – 18 hrs

Zoom: Register to receive the Zoomlink.

New scientific findings often reuse or repurpose existing printed, digitised or genuinely digital data collections. Disciplines such as archaeology or linguistics use the term legacy collections to indicate that such data collections share certain characteristics. They originate from the historical heritage of the respective discipline; usually, they do not meet today's scientific standards, and often they are documented poorly. Legacy collections are problematic, but hard to replace. They preserve unique data. Sometimes this data is no longer available elsewhere; often it is the result of years of research that cannot be repeated.

Social and economic history often draws on legacy collections, even though they do not usually label their historical data collections as such. One might think of printed series of historical statistics, dictionaries of ancient weights and measures, or published price statistics, customs registers and account books. The reuse of such legacy collections in social and economic history remains strongly person- and project-bound and does not comply, or only to a limited extent, with the principles of FAIR Data. Current research practice thus prevents a sustainable handling of legacy collections in social and economic history.

In order to achieve sustainability, the reuse and repurposing of historical data collections should perhaps take place within an upcycling framework. The digitisation of a source is merely the starting point. Upcycling aims at digital enhancement of the historical data collection. In the process, both the original data genesis and the technical challenges and epistemological requirements for its reuse or repurposing are scrutinized and documented. This facilitates the creation of reconfigured, upcycled data collections that comply with the FAIR data principles and can be reused in a sustainable way.

At the legacy4reuse workshop an international group of scholars will present current research with legacy collections in social and economic history and will discuss the methodological implications of their reuse. In so doing, the workshop aims to gain insight into the criteria, methods, and best practices for upcycling data collections in social and economic history.

Preliminary programme

Time slot



9 – 9.15

Mark Spoerer, Regensburg

Werner Scheltjens, Bamberg


Session 1

9.20 – 10.05

Sytze H.J. Van Herck, Utrecht

Rick J. Mourits, Amsterdam

Upcycling the Dutch civil registry using Linked Data

10.10 – 10.55

Michaela Schmölz-Häberlein, Bamberg

An Ambivalent Legacy - Upcycling Genealogical Research Data Collected before 1945 for a Jewish Prosopography of the Pre-Modern Period

10.55 – 11.15

Short Break

Session 2

11.15 – 12.00

Antonio Iodice, Genova

Ready-made legacy collections for reuse? Giuseppe Felloni’s paper database of Average sources

12.05 – 12.50

Ulrich Pfister, Münster

Upcycling relational databases: the import tolls of Hamburg (1733–1798)

12.50 – 14.00

Long break

Session 3

14.00 – 14.45

Christine Fertig, Münster

Merchant's Handbooks and Commodity Lists in the Digital Space. Transcribing and analysing digitised sources of the 18th century

14.50 – 15.35

Gabi Wüthrich, Zürich

“Tables are tricky”. Testing Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) Guidelines for FAIR upcycling of digitised historical statistics

15.35 – 15.50

Short break

Session 4

15.50 – 16.35

Lucky Ugbudian, Ebonyi

Legacy Collection and Uses in Nigeria: National Archives Experience

16.40 – 17.25

Shuai Wang, Amsterdam

Angelica Maineri, Rotterdam

FAIR Implementation Profile for the SSHOC-NL Socio-Economic History Community

17.25 – 17.30

Short break

17.30 – 18.00

Mark Spoerer, Regensburg

Werner Scheltjens, Bamberg