Modeling Account Books for Comparative Analysis
Numerous historians outside the United States are interested in finding ways to present digital versions of account books that would open the locally specific information on items exchanged, their prices, and the people involved in these exchanges to comparison across space and time. Developing recommendations for standard markup of accounts would make possible, for example, comparison of a series of exchanges in a New England town with a mixed agricultural and manufacturing economy over forty years to similar exchanges in a town in the Hudson River Valley for the same period.
This paper reports on the MEDEA Project (Modeling Semantically Enriched Digital Editions of Accounts), which seeks to contribute to the development of broad standards for marking up digital editions of account books. A joint project of historians in Europe and the United States, MEDEA builds on the Guidelines of the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI). Since the project seeks to facilitate conversion of local measures, looks for ways to provide interconnecting commodities information, and aims to enhance the usability of local accounting sources, the long-range products should make possible new answers to historical questions about the exchanges of goods and services that are part of everyday life in most human communities.
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