It is currently difficult to locate full sets of the County Surveys: print copies are scattered in libraries across the UK and digital copies are significantly limited in terms of quality and access. Bringing them together in convenient digital form will create a solid foundation for new research.
The first step towards this is aggregating bibliographic information about both print and digital copies of the surveys in order to assess the potential of printed books for digitisation and the quality and access conditions of extant digitised copies. We have drawn data from a variety of sources and contributing libraries, cross checked this against an authoritative bibliography created by Dr Heather Holmes (published in two parts in the Journal of the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society in 2012 and 2013), and against the mapping of counties undertaken by the Ordinance Survey in the mid Nineteen Century.
This bibliographic resource will soon be available through our online demonstrator, which will enable search by author, country, county and title. We welcome feedback on functionality and suggestions as to what kind of other filters and features would be useful.
As part of this pilot project, we will digitise a small number of surveys. These will be chosen strategically, following analysis of the data gathered though the content identification process, in order to increase coverage and enable access to rare material that can be difficult to access.
This digitisation process will also act as a pilot, through which we will explore the potential requirements of a fuller, high quality, full text online collection.
“The Board of Agriculture County Reports represent one of the most significant but under-utilised systematic historical sources from a key period in British economic and social history and at a key ‘moment’ in the emergence of the deductive sciences. […] Their digitisation and dissemination in this way will be of inestimable value to a whole range of disciplines and interest groups ” Professor Charles W J Withers FBA, FRSE, FRHistS, Professor of Historical Geography, University of Edinburgh.