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Data-Driven History

Florentine governments of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were obsessive data collectors, even if they didn’t always know what to do with all the data they collected. Fortunately for DECIMA, they kept detailed records about the people who lived in Florence. DECIMA allows researchers to access and analyze data taken from three different Florentine censuses, allowing for comparison of the city’s demographic and economic profiles across 81 years.

The DECIMA collection of early modern censuses currently includes three Florentine surveys and one from seventeenth-century Livorno, the Grand Duchy’s port on the Mediterranean.

Early Modern Florence

The DECIMA collection of early modern censuses currently includes three Florentine surveys: a population census from 1551; a property census from 1561; and a population census from 1632. Our data have been standardized to provide users with easy access to the demographic, economic, and spatial information contained within the original documents.

Each line in the 1551 descrizione refers to a household, i.e. a group of individuals organized under a single named individual. The 11,743 households listed in this urban population survey have been translated into database entries comprising twenty-seven separate fields. The data contained in these fields can be categorized under two headings: demographic and spatial.
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An entry in the 1561 Decima ricerca refers to a parcel of property, such as a house, a shop, or part of a structure. Each of these 8,691 items has been translated into an entry in the DECIMA database comprising sixty-six separate fields. The data contained in these fields can be divided between three headings: demographic, economic, and spatial.
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Each line in the 1632 descrizione represents a household, i.e. a group of individuals organized under a single named individual, the head. There are 14,715 households listed in the census, each of which is represented in our database with thirty-one fields. The data contained in these fields can be divided into demographic and spatial information.

This research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

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