International Microdata Access Group

IMAG First Meeting, May 21-23, 1999

On May 21-23, 1999, twenty-five international scholars gathered at the University of Ottawa to discuss prospects for integrating international historical census microdata. Present at the workshop were representatives of historical and contemporary census projects in the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, France, Mexico, the United States and Canada, as well as representatives of United Nations Population Divisions for Europe, and Latin America and the Caribbean. Observers from Statistics Canada also attended our meeting. The goals of this workshop were to enhance knowledge of: 
  • the census as a primary source for historical research in different nations, 
  • the availability of datasets based on historical census microdata, 
  • the characteristics of these microdata, and 
  • international similarities and differences in government and institutional practices concerning these data. 
Dr. Jean-Pierre Wallot, visiting professor at the Institute of Canadian Studies and former National Archivist of Canada, opened our meeting with timely and inspiring remarks about the value of international historical comparative research and the need for historians to influence state institutions to preserve national records for future study. Settling down to business, the workshop participants reported on the status and availability of manuscript censuses and census microdata in each nation, and discussed the particular challenges of integrating occupation, geographic, and household and family relationship variables. Many of our discussions about how to undertake this ambitious project continued over lunch and dinner. The opportunity to get to know our colleagues’ practices and priorities through informal conversation contributed greatly to the success of the workshop. 

The final day of the workshop, we made concrete plans to take our initiative forward. Discussion centered on ways to expand membership, set up the organization, create a presence in the scholarly community, build a constituency of support, and fund the data acquisition and database construction. A schedule of future meetings was also identified, beginning with a panel discussion at the Social Science History Association conference in Fort Worth, Texas, November 11-14, 1999, followed by future discussions at the European Social Science History Association conference in Amsterdam, April, 2000, and the International Congress of Historical Sciences in Oslo, Norway, August, 2000. 

The first IMAG workshop was funded by a Strategic Research Development Initiatives grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, grant # 820-98-0040. 

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