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CfP "legacy4reuse: Criteria and Methods for Upcycling Data Collections in Social and Economic History", Online Workshop, 22-24 November 2023

06-06-2023 00:10

New scientific findings often are based on the reuse or repurposing of existing printed, digitised or genuinely digital data collections. Disciplines such as archaeology or linguistics use the term legacy collections to indicate that such data collections share certain characteristics. They originate from the historical heritage of the respective discipline; usually, they do not meet today's scientific standards, and often they are documented poorly. Legacy collections are problematic, but hard to replace. They preserve unique data. Sometimes this data is no longer available elsewhere; often it is the result of years of research that cannot be repeated.

Social and economic history often draws on legacy collections, even though they do not usually label their historical data collections as such. One might think of printed series of historical statistics, dictionaries of ancient weights and measures, or published price statistics, customs registers and account books. The reuse of such legacy collections in social and economic history remains strongly person- and project-bound and does not comply, or only to a limited extent, with the principles of FAIR Data ( Current research practice thus prevents a sustainable handling of legacy collections in social and economic history.

In order to achieve sustainability, the reuse and repurposing of historical data collections should perhaps take place within an upcycling framework ( The digitisation of a source is merely the starting point. Upcycling aims at digital enhancement of the historical data collection. In the process, both the original data genesis and the technical challenges and epistemological requirements for its reuse or repurposing are scrutinized and documented. This facilitates the creation of reconfigured, upcycled data collections that comply with the FAIR data principles and can be reused in a sustainable way.

The legacy4reuse workshop aims to gather existing expertise on legacy collections in social and economic history in order to find answers to four questions related to the sustainability requirement:
1. Which legacy collections should be upcycled urgently? We invite reflections on particular data collections and general assessments from the perspective of special fields within social and economic history.
2. Which means and methods are available to reuse and repurpose legacy collections? To what extent can they serve as best practice examples?
3. What are the technical challenges of upcycling historical data collections and how could these challenges be met? We look for conceptual considerations as well as practical solutions and examples of successful implementation.
4. What are the epistemological requirements for reusing and repurposing legacy collections? We call for methodological and theoretical considerations based on practical examples.

Proposals can be submitted in German or English in a PDF file until 12.06.2023
The following information is requested for each contribution: Title, abstract (max. 300 words), author(s), contact information for all authors.

Please send the proposals to digihist[at]
We will send our feedback by 30.06.2023.

Prof. Dr. Werner Scheltjens, Professor of Digital History, University of Bamberg
Prof. Dr. Mark Spoerer, Chair of Economic and Social History, University of Regensburg


Η Δράση Αναβάθμιση και Ανανέωση του ιστοχώρου της Ελληνικής Εταιρείας Οικονομικής Ιστορίας χρηματοδοτείται από το Κοινωφελές Ίδρυμα Ιωάννη Σ. Λάτση, στο πλαίσιο του Προγράμματος Ενίσχυσης Επιστημονικών Εταιρειών 2016