Old Bailey Online Update March 2015

Our latest site update (version 7.2) is now live!* The main news for site users to be aware of – especially those who use the statistical functions – is that we’ve done a lot of work correcting data errors.

Data corrections

The most substantial are:

  • A number of related issues with the tagging of husbands and wives (in 1674-1834 sessions) have been corrected:
    • Correction of a tagging error that assigned a number of male defendants the occupational title of “wife”. [note: there are still some male victims tagged as wives, which will hopefully be fixed in the next update]
    • The removal of erroneous defendant status tagging from about 800 husbands.
    • Correction of the mis-tagging of a number of wives’ surnames as “his” (from “his wife”). [I think there may still be some errors of this type lurking in the database, and again will try to complete cleaning these in the next update]
  • About 100 mistranscribed defendant ages have been corrected. Many defendants previously tagged as 80 and above are now correctly listed as being in their 20s or 30s.
  • About 850 genders previously listed as “indeterminate” have now been correctly labelled as male or female. In some cases the original “indeterminate” tag resulted from a mistranscription of a forename, and these mistranscriptions have been corrected.
  • Wrongly dated sessions have been corrected:
    • The date of the 13 June 1836 session of the court was previously wrongly listed as 13 July 1836, owing to a mistake on the original title page.
    • The date of the 30 May 1770 session was wrongly listed as 30 June 1770.
    • Correction of these errors has necessitated changing all trial references for those sessions, so for example, t18360713-1634 is now t18360613-1634. If users search for the previous trial numbers they will receive an error notice and be advised to correct the reference.

Phew! If you’re in the process of doing research that may be affected by any of this you should probably review your data now. If you might be affected by it but are unable to revise your work I’d strongly recommend that you ensure that all citations include the previous version number (7.1).

In addition to the substantial changes above there are about 100 individual data corrections submitted by site users. We very much appreciate that users go to the trouble of doing this for us. However, not all corrections submitted will appear on the site. There are a number of main reasons for this:

  1.  We have limited time available for corrections so we prioritise certain errors – tagging of names, offences and outcomes, in particular. Errors in transcription outside those priorities are much less likely to make the cut.
  2. Conversely, a few corrections always turn out to be unusually awkward and time-consuming (this can be particularly true of problems with images) and have to wait for a later update.
  3. We only correct errors in our transcriptions or tagging. Some corrections submitted by users turn out to be errors in the original text, which we can’t incorporate into our data – even though they’re often the most interesting corrections of all! (I have been thinking about what we might do about this some time in the future…)

Other corrections and fixes

Most of these were also sent in by site users – again, always much appreciated. The main ones to note are:

  • Missing page images for sessions 1674-c.1715 have been restored (hooray!)
  • Some problems with links in user workspaces have been fixed
  • An inaccuracy in the API documentation has been corrected.

Finally, there was also some work done updating the site server and backend code. We think this has all been thoroughly tested and any issues ironed out, but if you encounter any problems with the site please do let us know. You can leave a comment below, on twitter @OldBaileyOnline or email oldbailey@sheffield.ac.uk.

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One Response to Old Bailey Online Update March 2015

  1. rebelhand says:

    Thank you, Sharon, and thanks to all the OBO team for your hard work.

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