"Big data" in economic history

Myron P. Gutmann, Emily Klancher Merchant, Evan Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Big data is an exciting prospect for the field of economic history, which has long depended on the acquisition, keying, and cleaning of scarce numerical information about the past. This article examines two areas in which economic historians are already using big data - population and environment - discussing ways in which increased frequency of observation, denser samples, and smaller geographic units allow us to analyze the past with greater precision and often to track individuals, places, and phenomena across time. We also explore promising new sources of big data: organically created economic data, high resolution images, and textual corpora.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-299
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Economic History
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018

Bibliographical note

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