|The British Integrated Census Microdata (I-CeM) Project|
|The Integrated Census Microdata (I-CeM) Project is creating a single, harmonised dataset of all the information on individuals in the British censuses for the period 1851 to 1911. When completed in three years time, this will be one of the largest historical datasets in the world. The £1,000,000 project is funded by the British Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and draws upon the existing census datasets created by commercial companies for on-line genealogical research. The I-CeM Project is a collaboration between the UK Data Archive and the Department of History at the University of Essex.
The paper will describe the background to the project, and the form of co-operation established between academics and business. It will also describe the work that will be undertaken in order to maximise the quality, comparability, and usefulness of the digitised census returns. This will involve a number of tasks, including reformatting, checking and cleaning the data received; the development of standard coding schemes for occupational and other data; the coding of the data; and the standardisation of administrative boundaries for the periods covered. International comparability will be achieved through coding data on the basis of internationally recognised schema. The paper will also describe the manner in which the dissemination and publicity for the datasets will be achieved through the development of online data dissemination tools; the production of GIS maps to link to the data; and the creation of representative national samples, documentation, user guides, and supporting teaching and research materials. Some consideration of the possibilities for new forms of research based on I-CeM will also be given.
It is intended that the I-CeM Project will be the basis of a still larger endeavour, if funding is available. This is the proposal to link all the individuals in I-CeM over time in order to create a vast longitudinal ‘panel’ survey. The paper will examine the implications of such proposals in terms of methodology and research potential.