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Port Arrivals Data. Automatic data collection for a large-scale comparative history of 19th century shipping: a Digital Humanities approach to maritime heritage


In the nineteenth century, during the transition from sail to steam, port cities were nuclei of imperial colonialism and capitalist configurations, linked by maritime trade and traffic to the processes of globalisation and the international division of labour. In these ports, the arrival of ships represented an economic, cultural, and political event. At the local level, complex port systems were created, also based on local, regional and fluvial trade and traffic. As such, the news of the arrival of ships received a place of privilege in the local press of these port cities. This project is based on the daily notices published in the majority of important port cities, and that contained information about the arrival of ships in the port. This was very complete and detailed information that, in general, included: the port of embarkment, ports of call, and days travelled; the type, name, and tonnage of the vessel; the name of the person responsible for the vessel (captain or skipper) and the flag flown; and, the cargo and the name of the business owner to whom it was to be delivered. This is a source of information that has been used in a variety of studies dedicated to maritime or economic history. However, because of the great effort required to exploit the source, these studies have always been rather partial: limited to short chronologies; focusing on a single type of cargo; or centred on a determined route. As such, in this project, we will take advantage of the opportunities offered to us by changes in the technological landscape over recent years – mainly the availability of extensive collections of digitalised historical newspapers and the ongoing development of software tools that facilitate bulk exploitation of these valuable resources. This allows us to automatically create databases of maritime traffic from 1850s to 1910s in the ports of Barcelona, Marseille, Buenos Aires and Havana, composed of thousands of records.


Net EU contribution
€ 225 400,00
Gran via de les corts catalanes 585
08007 Barcelona

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Este Cataluña Barcelona
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
No data

Participants (3)

Partners (6)