This Handbook provides an introduction
to designing databases for use in historical research. It
will provide an overview of important concepts – both
historical in nature and in terms of databases – that the
historian will need to consider before embarking upon
designing a database, and it will provide a number of
starting points for overcoming certain design problems
that specifically affect historians when they come to
wrestle their sources into a database.
Building and Using Databases for Historical Research
The aim of this tutorial is to equip you with the skills
required to build and utilise a relational database suited to
historical research. It is a non-tutor led tutorial that can be
completed at your own pace and at a time of your own choosing.
This tutorial requires additional registration and
costs £99. Please check below or on the IHR website for
further details (available
Following on from the Designing Databases Handbook,
this Module introduces the tools and techniques used in
building a database for historical research. It covers
the process of constructing related tables to
accommodate your data, as well as introducing a number
of practical measures that you can employ to control
the quality of the data that you create. The Module
also addresses what you need to do to incorporate
existing data into a newly-constructed database.
Module 2 introduces the numerous ways that database
tools can help you ask research questions of your data,
ranging from simply finding individual instances of
information at the micro level, through to providing
complex networking and record linkage overviews. This
Module also provides a basic introduction to employing
queries highlight statistical patterns in large bodies
of data through aggregation tools.
The final Module addresses two main aspects of using a
database in a historical research project: 'managing'
the database and generating research output. The former
element introduces various methods for ensuring good
practice in terms of file and version control, back up
and documentation - all important aspects of making
sure the database is useful to your research; whilst
the latter looks at ways of extracting data in various
formats (including visual) to share with other
The Institute of Historical Research has long run a successful
and comprehensive training course on Databases for historical
research. These are now also available online.
Further materials for the free handbook Designing Databases for