Busy, busy, busy…

It has been a busy few months for Law versus Practice, as the project team have been working on primary sources and existing datasets to supply the database. This involves thinking about the way we want to categorise information in order to conduct a gender analysis. It also involves A LOT of data cleaning (oh the joys of early modern spelling)! One of the most exciting aspects of our work has been exploring the potential for collaboration with other projects and institutions – we’ve had conversations about using datasets created by other projects in Law v Practice, which could really help to bring our work forward. We’ll have more to share on that front in the coming months!

It is a really exciting time for digital humanities’ projects with a focus on historical material. There is so much potential in applying digital tools to primary sources and a real opportunity to develop methodologies that promote gender analysis; this would ensure that women’s roles and experiences are foregrounded. With Law versus Practice, our main aim is to identify women who owned property, and explore how they maintained, conveyed or lost ownership of that property. This will help us to understand women’s roles in the early modern family and society, and how they experienced property ownership over time. By building a relational database that interacts with GIS (Geographic Information System) we are able to identify women and trace their ownership, and we can also ‘map’ their ownership. We are doing this by creating a unique ID for each woman we record, then tying that ID to distinct coordinates for the relevant townland or parish.  

Away from the computer screen, I had the privilege of delivering a keynote to the Women’s History Association of Ireland in QUB at the end of April. It was great to have such a platform to ‘launch’ the project and the feedback received was really positive. It was a brilliant conference overall – a real showcase for scholarship on women’s and gender history in Ireland.

I will have a chance to speak about Law versus Practice at two more conferences this summer. First up is the Eighteenth Century Ireland Conference in the University of Galway on 20 June. Registration is available here. In August, meanwhile, I’ll be joining Dr Neil Johnston of VRTI and The National Archives, and Dr Evan Bourke of MACMORRIS, on a panel at the Tudor & Stuart Ireland conference, also in Galway. We’ll be discussing the opportunities and challenges presented by digital humanities. You can register for that here. So a busy summer ahead for Law versus Practice, but that’s no complaint.

Don’t forget to check back for updates on the project!

Dr Frances Nolan (PI, Law versus Practice) Delivering the opening keynote to the WHAI Conference 2024 at Queens University Belfast.
Image credit: Dr Jennifer Redmond


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