Migration and Mobility
Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 18 January 2012
A University of Leicester Professor has led a research bid which has won a prestigious international award amid stiff competition.
Professor Kevin Schürer is among a group of historians who have won funding for their proposal to research 19th century migration in Britain and North America.
Professor Schürer, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, leads the Mining Microdata project which involves a team of researchers who have been awarded a share of £3 million in grants from the Digging Into Data Challenge.
Their research is part of an international competition that promotes innovative humanities and social science research using large-scale data analysis.
The grant will allow them to use data-mining technology to investigate census information from Britain, Canada and the United States of America – covering more than 100 million people – in order to compare geographical and economical mobility in each country.
The team believes that the questions of what the levels, trends and characteristics associated with people's movement have never been properly answered.
Professor Schürer said: “The recent availability of nominal-level large-scale historical data across several countries allows us to explore issues and questions unthinkable only a few years ago. This project aims to do just that. The internationally comparative and collaborative nature of the project will also add interesting and challenging dimensions.”
They hope the huge source of data they have access to – which was partly digitized by commercial firms for genealogical research – as well as new technology they have developed for analysing historical records will allow them to draw new conclusions about migration.
Professor Schürer, who is also an honorary research professor at the University of Essex, is working with Dr Matthew Woollard, head of the UK Data Archive at the University of Essex along with researchers from the University of Alberta, the Université de Montréal and the University of Guelph in Canada and the University of Minnesota in the USA.
The award was funded by eight international research organisations from four countries – including the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).
A total of 14 teams from the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands and the United States will receive grants of over £3m in total to investigate how computational techniques typically applied to the sciences can also be applied to change humanities and social sciences research.
Report by Mark Cardwell