Progress, hiatus and future plans

One of the advantages of doing this project on my own with no funding or institutional support is that there are no deadlines. A disadvantage is that working on the project has to come third behind paid work and peer-reviewed publications. That’s why progress has been so inconsistent in the past year – it’s nothing to do with corona virus, because this is a project that I can do from home at the moment. In the first half of 2020 I made huge progress and got the size of the wiki to more than 20,000 pages (mostly settlements in England and Scotland). Then it stopped as other things got in the way. For the last seven months there have only been occasional manual edits, and long periods with apparently nothing happening. But I have been doing a lot of offline work that isn’t visible on the wiki.

The biggest task that I’m working on is preparing to import the Propositions lists from SP 28/131. These are three account books (one doesn’t even have a page yet) that list people’s names, addresses, and occupations, and details of the horses and arms that they loaned to Parliament in 1642 and 1643. This is an amazing source that has been a big part of my research on horse supply, and I want other people to be able to use it more easily. Among other things, it allowed me to identify Davy the horseman from Nehemiah Wharton’s letters, and even find the colour of his horse! Although I’ve made a lot of progress with record linkage, it still needs a lot more work before I can import it, and I don’t know when I’ll find the time because I’m lucky enough to have a good amount of paid work lined up, and a potential journal article that I can finish writing without any archive trips. Because of this, I might use any spare time I get to work on smaller, easier tasks that I can finish quickly, so at least something will be happening on the wiki, even if it’s not the most exciting thing. I’m deliberately being vague about what these tasks might be because it’s hard to predict what will be easiest to do in the time I’ve got.

Meanwhile, working on record linkage for the Propositions lists has led to a little bit of visible progress. Today I imported about 40 English settlements that were previously missing. The latest dumps of wikitext pages and RDF have been uploaded to Github.