PRINTED QUESTIONNAIRES, RESEARCH NETWORKS, AND THE DISCOVERY OF THE BRITISH ISLES, 1650–1800

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Abstract

This article examines the circulation of printed questionnaires as a research strategy among those investigating the constituent parts of the British Isles between the mid-seventeenth and late eighteenth centuries. It traces the origins and development of published ‘heads’ or ‘articles of enquiry’ as a means of acquiring information on antiquities, geography, and natural history and pieces together the research networks through which this methodology was shared and elaborated. The learned societies, ecclesiastical infrastructure, and periodical publications of the day are shown to have been instrumental in promoting this practice and in forging links between scholars and the ‘learned and ingenious’ in the parishes to whom such ‘queries’ were addressed. It is argued that these questionnaires were an important and insufficiently appreciated aspect of regional studies during the period. Though the responses to them are shown to have been highly variable, both in quantity and quality, it is suggested that they helped to establish what has become an important technique of data collection in modern academic inquiry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)593-621
Number of pages28
JournalHistorical Journal
Volume53
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2010

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