VCU Honors College

Research Opportunities

Project details

Measuring the Demographic Characteristics of the Irish (Gaelic) Speakers of Nineteenth-Century Ireland

Instructor: Wolf, Nicholas

Between 1800 and 1900, a significant decline took place in the number of Irish (Gaelic) speakers in Ireland. By the early twentieth century, only 14% of the Irish population could speak the language, and only a concerted effort at preserving Irish has prevented its disappearance. However, the precise causes and scope of that decline has yet to be fully analyzed by historians or linguists. Because Irish is one of the world’s endangered languages, a study of its history makes a considerable contribution to current awareness of human linguistic diversity and how languages decline. The aim of this project is to build and analyze a large-scale dataset based on demographic data collected over the course of the nineteenth century that will reveal key details about the characteristics of that Irish-speaking population. The primary goals of this research will be to assemble and organize the immense amount of demographic data contained in government reports, code that data in a usable variable form, create dictionaries tracking and harmonizing variables, and readying the data in table form to enable statistical analysis.

Specific courses completed: Not specified

Skills/Interests: history, demography, computer-based statistical analysis

Student eligibility requirements: None