Digitizing the transnational history of social reform-New Trends in eHumanities

Chris Leonards & Nico Randeraad ( University Maastricht) and Pim van Bree & Geert Kessels (Lab1100)


January 14, 2016. 15.00-17.00 hrs. at the eHumanities Group.


Digitizing the transnational history of social reform

In the course of the 19th century industrialization, urbanization and globalization put a lot of strain on societies and people. The call for social reform was one of the many responses. While often operating at local levels, reform movements sometimes managed to link up with national networks, or even reached out across state borders. This transnational dimension of social reform is a new and inspiring field of research in social, cultural and political history.

We believe that our project has the potential of combining a transnational perspective with a targeted use of tools developed in the realm of digital humanities. We zoom in on transnational activists, who without loosing sight of their local roots, participated in international congresses on many different aspects of social reform. Nodegoat, a web based data management programme, is an excellent platform to store, visualize, and further explore the activities of visitors of international congresses in the period 1840-1914.

In our presentation we aim at demonstrating the added value of Nodegoat for our research interests, while keeping our eyes open for further enhancements, such as linking data from different digital resources, and named entity recognition.


LAB1100 is a research and development firm established in 2011 by Pim van Bree and Geert Kessels. Their joint skill set in new media, history, and software development allows them to conceptualise and develop complex software applications. Working together with universities and research institutes, LAB1100 has built digital research platforms and interactive data.

Dr. Nico Randeraad (Department of History, Maastricht University) studied history at the Free University in Amsterdam, and holds a Phd from the European University Institute in Florence (1992). He worked at various Dutch universities and at the University of Hull before landing in Maastricht. His research concentrates on 19th and 20th century European history. He writes about administrative history in the widest sense, from the social history of civil servants to administrative architecture and from the intellectuals roots of welfare policies to the workings of public administration. He has a particular interest in Italian history and in the history of the production of government statistics. He is currently engaged in a project on the transnational dynamics of social reform in the period 1840-1940.

Dr. Chris Leonards was trained as a social and economic historian at the Faculty of Arts, Radboud University Nijmegen and received his PhD at the Faculty of Historical Sciences and Arts, Erasmus University Rotterdam. Currently he is lecturer in economic and social history at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Maastricht University, the Netherlands. His ongoing research interests are with the history of transnational relations, social reform, cultures of expertise, transnational congresses and idealistic NGOs in the 19th and 20th century. Previously he has published on penitentiary care in youth prisons and reformatories.