Digital Infrastructure

Law versus Practice will facilitate interdisciplinary research through the application of digital methods to historical sources. This will include the use of a relational database management system, managed through SQL, to store, index and interpret data, and an open-source Geographic Information System (GIS). GIS will consist of the database (accessed through an Application Programming Interface (API)), OpenStreetMap, and a user interface. OpenStreetMap will be overlayed with historical maps, with data on property-owners, as well as on parishes, townlands and baronies stored in the database. To facilitate analysis at distinct geographic levels, individual townlands will be uniquely linked to a parish, which will, in turn, be linked to a barony, which will link to a county. The user interface will comprise controls (e.g. map selection, date filters, zoom function) for ease of navigation. User actions (searches, filters, ‘zooming in’) will trigger AJAX calls to the API, generating user-specific results, which are apportioned unique URLs. The use of GIS in mapping historical data has precedent in the Down Survey Project, which overlayed Google Maps with Ordnance Survey and Down Survey maps and linked placename data to coordinates to provide a visual representation of historic geography, as well as landownership in seventeenth-century Ireland. By mapping the nature and commonality of women’s property-ownership, Law versus Practice will visualise the impact of confiscation and plantation on women. Law versus Practice will also use network analysis to recognise relationships within the data; this will allow users to identify the role of actors in individual property transactions.