The Past's Digital Presence, February 19-20, 2010


20 - How-To Digital Humanities: "Accessing Wills: MS Access as a Tool for Historians"

Document Type


Publication Date



My paper is divided into four sections. First I describe why I chose Access as my research tool and how I developed my Wills’ Format. Second, I illustrate, through a tour of my data base, how I used Access’ data-crunching ability to generate the raw material I needed to answer questions posed by my dissertation. Third, I discuss how Access, in general, or the S/T format developed to analyze wills, in particular, might be adapted for use by other scholars. And finally, I touch upon the issue of bias, posing a series of questions that I hope will spark a discussion: does the very act of placing data in searchable “boxes” of our own creation, in fact, bias our results?

Open Access

This Article is Open Access