Research Data Netherlands, a national coalition of data archives, last week announced the nominees for the 2014 Data Prize. The Sound Toll Registers Online project at the University of Groningen is one of the three nominees in the field of humanities and social sciences. This is a joint research project between Tresoar, the Frisian centre for history and literature, and the Faculty of Arts at the University of Groningen. The team is headed by Dr Jan Willem Veluwenkamp.
The project centres on the Sound Toll Registers (STR), an online database of the records of tolls levied by the king of Denmark on shipping passing through the Sont strait. With some gaps in the first few decades, records have been preserved for the period from 1497 to 1857, when the toll was abolished. With data on 18 million ship passages, the STR are an invaluable resource for studying trade, transport, production and consumption in Europe, as well as the life of skippers in the merchant navy. Until recently the STR were only kept in the Danish National Archives (Rigsarkivet) in Copenhagen, but thanks to this project they have now been analyzed and made available to a wider audience of both historians and the interested public. Volunteers are currently entering the remaining 300,000 records of ship passages into the database. The project is still looking for people interested in helping with this task. More information can be found at
The winner of the 2014 Data Prize will be announced on 24 September at an award ceremony in Amsterdam. All the nominees will have an opportunity to make a presentation to a panel of judges. The winners will receive a trophy, €7,500 to go towards increasing dataset accessibility (e.g. by organizing a symposium or by making the data accessible online) and a celebratory dinner.
The Data Prize can be seen as an incentive prize for researchers who use new technology to conduct innovative research in the humanities and social sciences. Other nominees in this field are the Dutch Song Database at the Meertens Institute and the LASA (Longitudinal Aging Study) project at the VU University Amsterdam.
More information about the Sound Toll project can be found at
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