Old Bailey Online research in New Zealand, and a full data source

During 2015 I was privileged to co-supervise Jasper Mackenzie’s MSc in Computational Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Raazesh Sainudiin was lead supervisor, and Heather Wolffram from the History department co-supervised with me. Jasper led the development of a technical report in addition to his thesis, titled ‘A nonparametric view of the civilizing process in London’s Old Bailey’. The goal of the research was to analyse the Old Bailey Online dataset using standard methods in computational statistics – seeking robust empirically valid conclusions – but to do so using tools that would align well to the values and needs of the digital humanities community. This blend is difficult to achieve, and a lot of work remains to be done: the very fact the project included two mathematicians, a historian, and a digital humanist attests to that.

Work continues on two fronts, however. Members of the team are continuing their research into the Old Bailey Online dataset, using a full dump of the data, generously provided by Tim Hitchcock and the Old Bailey Online team. Raaz is also using the dataset in a new course in Scalable Data Science, suggesting how useful humanities datasets can be for teaching principles of data analysis.

With the approval of the Old Bailey Online team, I’m happy to report that the full dataset can be downloaded here: http://www.math.canterbury.ac.nz/~r.sainudiin/datasets/public/OldBailey/. More sources for the data are expected to follow but this seems a nice way to build on the work underway in New Zealand.