Designing Databases exercise
1. Using the sample source, an 1888 strike register, identify all the possible types of information
2. Identify information that is likely to prove problematic in the tabular structure of a databaseReveal Answer
Further Information about this Manuscript
Of course the columns provided within the source provide a clear indication of the kinds of information that can be obtained, which makes the historian’s life a little simpler (although this will not often be case). Some reasonably sophisticated forms of social analysis could be performed with even as simple a source as this with relative ease by employing a database, both in terms of record linkage and in terms of drawing out various statistical patterns.
But even this relatively simple source contains a number of issues that will complicate the transition from information to data – and keep in mind the fact that the sample is only two pages of a larger manuscript.
As with the Census enumerator’s listing above, the strike register, whilst more or less in a tabular arrangement, also contains information at the top of the page with is outside the rectangular structure of the source, and which would need accommodating somehow in the database. Additionally there are a number of classic source-based problems which will hinder the design of the database, and which we will return to in Section F. Alterations, marginalia, notations, abbreviations, the sudden inclusion of a value that does not seem to fit the stated classification scheme of the source, illegible text, double values entered for some columns and so on, all serve to complicate matters.