Big Data in Economic History Conference

May 27–28, 2021

Illustration : background map of Paris and illustration provided by Victor Gay.



Background and objective

The recent decade has witnessed a rise in the availability of large datasets or “Big Data” in economics, and social sciences more generally. The field of economic history is no exception: The recent and rapidly growing availability of Big Data from digitized historical sources is comparable in importance and magnitude to the Cliometric revolution. Big Data in economic history pose specific challenges, though: How can economic history make use of the new wealth of available data? Does it pose the threat of the understudy of areas and periods that are much less rich with respect to data availability? Does the abundance of Big Data induce economic historians to pay less attention to how the data have been created in the first place, which is a traditional strength of economic historians?

This conference will gather leading scholars in the field of economic history and other related social sciences and humanities who have general interest in Big Data in History.

The workshop will have four sessions:

1. Micro-level data. Population, manufacturing, and agricultural censuses; vital and inheritance records; geolocated micro-level data.

2. Textual data. Printed material (books, newspapers, . . . ) and speeches.

3. Georeferenced data. Geographically located network data (transportation, urban, water infrastructures)

4. Ancient and medieval data. Archeological, papyrological, paleontological, and soil data.



Victor Gay and Mohamed Saleh (IAST & TSE)


Confirmed Speakers

Micro-level data

Katherine A Eriksson (UC Davis)

Shari Eli (Toronto)

Lionel Kesztenbaum (INED)

Steven Ruggles (Minnesota) 

Ewen Gallic (AMSE) 

Leigh Shaw-Taylor (Cambridge) 

Guillaume Blanc (Brown Unviersity)

Textual data

Michela Giorcelli (UCLA)

Elliott Ash (Zurich) 

Georeferenced data

Rémi Jedwab (George Washington)

Eric Melander (University of Namur)

Thomas Thévenin (Université de Bourgogone) 

Ancient and medieval data

Mattia Fochesato (Bocconi)

Yossef Rapoport (Queen Mary)



Online Workshop


May 27-28, 2021

To mitigate the time difference between participants, the conference will run from 3pm to 8 or 9pm Toulouse time with breaks in-between sessions


Online registration is required to attend the workshop. Registration deadline: May 27th


For further information, please send an email to: 


This event is funded by a French government subsidy managed by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche under the framework of the investissements d'avenir programme reference ANR-17-EURE-0010.


Big Data in Economic History Conference, May 27–28, 2021.