22 December 2023 - 15:52

The Historical Sample of the Netherlands (HSN) was initiated during the period 1987−1989 when an interdisciplinary and interuniversity group of Dutch scholars started discussing the foundation of one large database with data on individuals.

Building one general prospective database with multiple research possibilities was considered as the only way to realize a cost-effective and properly documented tool for historical research from economic, social, demographic, epidemiological and geographic perspective. See also: https://doi.org/10.51964/hlcs9298

The HSN constructs life histories as completely as possible for a representative portion of the nineteenth and twentieth century population in The Netherlands. The sample has been drawn from all persons born in The Netherlands between 1812 and 1922, which are followed from 1850/1863 through the Dutch population registers and traced in the birth and marriage registers.. Ultimately, the HSN database will include information on an individual level from 85,500 persons on subjects like age at marriage, religious affiliation, the number of children born, occupation, birth place, literacy, social network and migration history. See also: https://doi.org/10.1080/00324728.2020.1718186

The importance of the HSN for the researcher is fourfold:

  • The HSN provides a representative dataset for  the late-19th and early-20th centuries.
  • The HSN follows individuals continuously over the life course and registers all permanent places of residence.
  • The HSN contains a wide range of variables, generally not available in other historical sources.
  • The HSN can be linked to the Social-Statistical Databases of the CBS to connect the past to the present.

In collaborations with researchers, about 25 additional projects have been realized to extend the core database. Retrieved life courses on, for example, the Amsterdam Jewish population, labour immigrants and their descendants in Rotterdam, or textile workers in Twente have been released as HSN subsamples.

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