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Our new data release: what do you want, and where?

Exciting news! We’re gearing up to make our next data release – around 16,000 new records. But we need your help … 

Provisionally we’re aiming for mid-July, as we’re cleaning up the dataset at the moment to make sure it’s as accurate and consistent as possible. This has been a long-term task, and we’re grateful to everyone who has been involved in this, particularly Craig Shaw, James Huang and Chris Joliffe. With approaching 400,000 cells worth of data to check it’s a big task – but an important one.

Before we release the data, we’re keen to hear from anyone who might use it in the future, to make sure we do two things. Firstly, we want to be sure we’re reaching you as effectively as possible, and spreading the word. Secondly, we’re keen to know what you might want to do with the data. We’d really appreciate your help with this – whether via email, our social media (Twitter and Facebook), our feedback form, or in the comments below.

However you might have come to our work, we’d like to hear from you. You might be a rail enthusiast, a family historian, an academic, a current rail worker, a local historian, a museums or archives professional, someone else entirely – or some combination of many of those ‘types’ of person. Wherever you start from, we’d be grateful if you could help us with the new data release, on two questions:

How can we reach you and like-minded people who might be interested?

Where and how do you want to find out about our dataset?

In terms of our ‘go to’ things, our blog is a given, and Twitter & Facebook. These are the things we’re most used to using to spread the message. But that relies on people finding us – much better to take the project to you all. So where should we be promoting it, and how?

And what should we be telling you about the data? Giving you broad hints about what’s in it? Specific examples? Or just leaving you to get on with it?

Whilst we’re keen to raise awareness, we’re also limited – realistically there’s a single person doing our promotion and publicity, around the edges of their day job. We can’t do everything, sadly. We’re also not precious about the data – our key aim is to ensure you know about it and make use of it. If you therefore want to spread the word about it, then that would be greatly appreciated!

What do you want to do with the data?

This is a bit harder to predict, given you don’t yet know what’s going to be in the data. But let’s give it a go!

In some ways it’s straightforward, as it adds to our existing database of c.6,500 cases mostly covering 1911-1915, in the same format. If you’ve seen that, you’ll have a good idea of what you might find more of in the new data, but for an extended date range.

Are you most interested in finding people? Or places? Or particular types of railway information (for example, about railway companies, working practices, or technologies)? Or something else entirely?

Your replies need not be long – any suggestions or ideas you can share with us will be gratefully received and help us prepare for the data release. The more people we can reach with the new data, the better.

Let us know what you find!

When the data is out, of course please tell us when you find cases of interest! There’s a wealth of social history in these records, and we can’t wait to see people finding out more about the working lives and accidents of railway staff of the past. If you can take news of us out to the people and groups you belong to & help others find us, that would be excellent!

Finally, we’re always happy if people want to produce a guest blog post for us, about the accidents you’ve found that are interesting – whether that be a relative, people in your area, or in the same role as you. There’s more on how to do that here.

For further comments or questions please complete the below questionnaire or leave us a comment on this blog post :



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