The 'Confronting the Digital' Debate and an Assertive Digital Edition: British History and Hearth Tax Records

Andrew Wareham, Georg Vogeler

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    This article contributes to the ‘Confronting the Digital’ debate by setting out the case for using the methods of an ‘assertive’ digital edition to enrich
    historical research and to make archives accessible to a range of users. It illustrates its case with data modelling, data analysis and personal stories arising from the use of digital resources derived from the British hearth tax records (1662–95). Parts 1–2 address the nature of the debate for academia, libraries and archives, and their relationships with commercial organizations. Parts 3–4 explore the work of ScotlandsPlaces and Hearth Tax Digital, setting out the methods of an assertive digital edition in enhancing record access, research and long-term preservation, and assesses the benefits for academic research. Parts 5–6 demonstrate how this work has enhanced life skills and increases peoples’ confidence outside the academic world through research undertaken in schools and colleges and by the University of the Third Age. The article shows that an assertive edition approach brings considerable benefits to the study of pre-modern sources dispersed across archives, thereby enabling historians and other users to conduct qualitative and quantitative research both within and outside academia on communities and ordinary people from the early modern period. This not only enhances research knowledge but also increases confidence among diverse groups.

    © 2021, The Author(s). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)39-50
    Number of pages11
    JournalCEUR Workshop Proceedings
    Publication statusPublished - 14 May 2021

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