By Richard T. Vann

In acquaintances in lifestyles and loss of life individual historians sign up for forces to take advantage of the outstanding riches provided via the documents of British and Irish Quakers for the coed of social, demographic, and familial switch through the interval 1650-1900. Professor Vann and Eversley have analysed the studies of greater than 8,000 Quaker households, concerning over 30,000 contributors, to supply an unheard of research of styles of child-bearing, marriage, and dying between an important spiritual grouping. The authors, anyplace attainable, evaluate the Quakers within the British Isles with the modern inhabitants of england and eire as a complete, in addition to with these of France, Québec, and the yankee colonies.

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Additional info for Friends in Life and Death: British and Irish Quakers in the Demographic Transition

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It is not families moving away but leaving the Society of Friends which accounts for most breaks in the continuity of the Quaker records. The other advantage over the parish registers comes from another peculiarity of Quaker usage. They did not practice any ritual of "outward baptism," so their registers record only births. There is thus no need to guess how old babies were when they were baptized, and our calculations of the mortality of children in the first few days of life are relieved of that possible source of inaccuracy.

Wrigley and R. S. Schofield in "English population history from family reconstitution: summary results 1600-1799/' Population Studies 37 (1983), 175-77- The quality of the sources 27 without treating them as though they were exact by using a code for the computer. An inferred date would be entered as something like 0-0-1712* while an exact date would be entered as 3-11-1712. The asterisk and the fact that zeroes rather than positive numbers were used for the months signaled the computer to exclude these dates from tables where we wanted exact dates and to include them if approximate dates would suffice.

If there is the slightest breakdown in the logical chain, the program fails. Each program thus had to be tested, often a large number of times, since in the early stages of running the information through the machines the process would come to a premature end; and even when a complete run to print-out took place, the resulting tables might turn out on first inspection to contain nonsense. So the wearisome process of "de-bugging" the programs went on, until the experts were finally satisfied. Even then there is no guarantee that the historian can accept what is printed out, for the final stages of this long process involve a dialogue between the historian and the programmer.

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