Using qualitative data to unravel the life-course of unmarried and never married women in the early modern period

Sofie De Langhe, Ghent University

Quantitative data are sometimes not sufficient enough or, even more, inappropriate and/or very scarce in order to study a specific part of a historical population.My PhD-research which lays at the basis of this paper focuses on the specific ways of living of unmarried and never married women in the Bruges area at the second half of the 18th and first half of the 19th century. The quantitative sources that can be used for this research are limited. To counterbalance this problem, we have to rely on qualitative sources on unmarried and never married women. Nevertheless, difficulties also occur.First of all, not all single women are represented.Secondly, a large part of these qualitative data do not represent the daily activities of unmarried women. Despite these difficulties, it is nonetheless the aim of this paper to show by empirical evidence how quantitative and qualitative data can efficiently be used in a historical demography.

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Presented in Poster Session 5: Contexts