Regarding the implementation of the project between October and December 2015
Rhythms and Patterns: The Quantitative Dimension
of Family Life in Transylvania, 1850-1918
The first three months of the project included both organisational and administrative activities, which normally accompany the beginning of this type of endeavour, and the methodologic contextualisation of the research, followed by the formulation of clear methodological guiding principles. The projectís initial research plan was thus adapted to fit within its newly-imposed time constraints (the beginning of the projectís implementation in October 2015), so that the research objectives and activities for medium and long term were not affected.
A.Completion of the project team
In October 2015 the final two members of the project team - the two PhD students - were selected. The research interests of the first doctoral student (Georgiana Izabela Coroian) and those of the second doctoral student (Oana-Valentina Sorescu-Iudean) make this choice a propitious addition to the project. Moreover, the main team welcomes the fact that these two students stem from either connected disciplines (2nd doctoral student - social history) or even from the projectís main area of specialty (1st doctoral student - historical demography). The de facto delegation of tasks from the main project schedule has allowed these two new members to gain experience in working within a broader research project, which involves the coordinated activity of a team of researchers for a lengthy period. Moreover, by directly involving these two junior members in most of the projectís tasks since November 2015, they will gradually gain much-needed practical experience in completing those tasks that normally befall a senior researcher (drafting scientific reports, taking part in project meetings, adhering to deadlines, etc.). This professionally formative aspect should not be underestimated, as this type of project (involving younger researchers or even students) always has the unwritten aim of encouraging the establishment of a research community that can involve and support not only senior researchers, but also those who are at the beginning of their academic path.
B. Formulation of methodological guiding principles and the meta-analysis of the relevant secondary literature
During these first months, the project team has focused on laying the groundwork from the perspective of the specialized secondary literature resources and that of the relevant databases, similar to that which will provide the information needed for the analysis (HPDT). This endeavour has matched the activities A1 (formulation of methodology) and A2 (meta-analysis of the specialty literature) and the O1 objective, as they were noted in the projectís initial description.
The identification and cataloguing of the relevant secondary literature stemming from various fields (historical demography, sociology, family history, etc.) was the result of a group effort, involving primarily researcher Dr. Daniela M‚rza, who centralized all the titles and created a systematic database containing them. The other team members were also involved in the initial phase, leading to a collaboration that ensured both the thematic cohesion of the resulting database, as well as its interdisciplinary character and its openness towards other geographical areas and research approaches.
The construction of this rich bibliographical database, containing relevant books and journal articles - which will be consulted in the following stages of the project as well - was enabled by the project teamís access to the international databases provided by the Central University Library in Cluj, as well as by the Babe?-Bolyai University. By the end of the project, a genuine electronic library will be established, which will allow those interested in these topics to consult relevant works without having to dedicate great lengths of time to identify and select these resources. Thus, this activity will provide not only the fundament upon which a fully state-of-the-art methodology will be built, but will also potentially open up new avenues of disseminating the theoretical and methodological pathways that the project is guided by.
The process of formulating a working set of methodological principles can be re-traced by following the main thematic categories and approaches according to which the studies identified have been classified:
Firstly, the project team has consulted the most recent Romanian studies dealing with the family from a demographic and an historical perspective. With this occasion, the current projectís original character should be noted again, as the works of family history that employ a quantitative approach are still very limited in number, circumscribed to narrow geographical areas, and descriptive rather than analytical in character.
A second category was that of methodological studies, which discussed the ways in which information extracted from historical population databases can be put to use. It should be noted that Romanian research is far behind other countries, which have already processed their sources many years ago, have built complex databases, and have formulated models of analysis that have been implemented on an international level.
Thirdly, studies employing a quantitative approach in the discussion of the different key moments of family life have been identified and catalogued. A highly international bibliography was encountered in this case, including works written by British, French, German, but also Bulgarian, Albanian, and Serbian historians, each offering various examples and models of analysis.
Finally, the team has identified works from the fields of sociology and cultural anthropology, guided by methods and principles that are applicable to historical research. These will enable the multiple disciplinary contextualization and the complete understanding of the demographic phenomena revealed by the empirical research.
Thus, this bibliographic database offers a realist starting point, and allows for the team membersí efforts to focus on those research paths that are completely Ďunexploredí in the Romanian research. This, in turn, enables the project team to work with a maximum of efficiency - an essential aspect, given the vastness and the complexity of the topic - so that, by the end of the project, a major contribution will be made to the recovery of the ever-growing gap between Romanian and international research.
This bibliographic database is available in the annexes to this report. Due to the fact that the international scientific environment is highly dynamic, it will be permanently improved in order to maintain its state-of-the-art character.
On the other hand, the methodologic contextualization of the project has also taken into consideration the potential future placing of the research findings - obtained by sampling the information contained in the Historical Population Database of Transylvania - in a comparative framework. Thus, the first doctoral student (Georgiana Izabela Coroian) has identified and centralized the existing population databases similar to the HPDT, both from a temporal perspective and from that of structure (standardisation in accordance to the IDS principles). By consulting these databases and those studies that have based their findings on the information provided by these instruments, a state-of-the-art methodological framework has been constructed. The team will also be able to focus on those particular issues - along with their empirical bases - that have especially preoccupied the international environment, and, to the extent that it will be possible, to answer similar types of questions. This document, which centralizes the efforts of demographers from other regions to aggregate a sufficient amount of data so as to allow for a longitudinal analysis of family history, has also been annexed to the present report.
Thus, the main methodological coordinates of the project, which had been noted in the initial description, have been successfully drawn. These have led to the creation of working instruments - a bibliographic database and a meta-database of presently extant quantitative demographic efforts - that will serve as a cornerstone for the analysis beginning in January 2016.
During this period, the teamís efforts were focused not only on the identification and cataloguing of specialized secondary literature. This broad bibliography is currently being consulted in-depth in order to appropriately place the projectís hypotheses and questions in a wider research field, with a potential for future comparisons. Therefore, it will be possible to permanently re-assess and direct the research activity and its findings towards the directions followed by other demographers, working on different regions.
C.Scientific results and dissemination
A first step in the dissemination of the projectís findings was the creation of a website that would host a description of this endeavour, its main objectives, as well as its methodological principles. As the sampling and analysis activity will proceed further, these new findings will also be integrated into this dissemination channel.
Moreover, despite the short time frame since the implementation of the project, the first doctoral student (Georgiana Coroian) has drafted a study in the field of historical demography, entitled ĄObservaĢii privind evoluyia demografic„ a parohiei unitariene din satul Mihai Viteazu (jud. Cluj) Ón perioada 1821-1870Ē, which is already pending publication. This article will be published in the second issue of the Cluj-based periodical PhiloHistoRisS, in December of 2015 (ISSN 2068-5483). It focuses on the evolution of the Unitarian community in the village of Mihai Viteazu during the 19th century from the perspective of the main demographic events noted in the contemporary parish records.
To conclude, despite the relatively brief period since the projectís commencement, the team members successfully fulfilled their scheduled activities, thus accomplishing the main objectives proposed in the initial research plan. Between October and December of 2015, the first two activity noted in the project description was completed (the formulation of a methodological framework), while the second activity (the meta-analysis of relevant secondary literature) was begun. This second endeavour will ensure that the research findings will be ideally placed in a theoretical and methodological framework that is relevant on an international level.
The two working instruments created during these three months - a database containing specialized secondary literature concerning the various issues dealt with by this project; a meta-database centralizing the extant population databases that allow for longitudinal analyses - will significantly contribute to the further development of the project, in all its stages.