Data Drive

We are in the business of producing high-quality data.

textile fragment featuring rows of trees or bushes

Were you expecting a more... modern image? Understandable. But we think this detail of an 18th century (Russian-made) carpet evokes the texture of historical data - its complexity, contingency, scarcity, and utility - beautifully. 

Russian State Hermitage Museum; Harvard Fine Arts Library; Aga Khan Program

Data security. Data-driven decisions. Data mining. Data science. Big data. 

You get the idea: data is everywhere. You consume it, you produce it. But what is it, really? According to the Oxford English Dictionary, we use the word "data" to describe "related items of (chiefly numerical) information considered collectively, typically obtained by scientific work and used for reference, analysis, or calculation."

That may or may not resonate with you. But however you define it, you will most likely agree that data is a valuable commodity. The better the quality, and the harder it is to obtain, the more it is worth.

Archives and libraries are filled with related items of information, but converting it into data that is both usable and meaningful requires labor and expertise.

That is where we come in. We provide freely-accessible, well-documented, utterly fascinating data about the world that was once the Russian Empire to a primarily English-speaking audience. Why do such a thing? It's simple. Our goal is to lower the barrier for spatial analysis so that students, scholars, and members of the public can connect the tsarist past with today's technology.

New datasets are published every two weeks, beginning May 13, 2022.

If you find yourself making use of our datasets, or have ideas for a new dataset, we would love to hear about it! Email imperiia@fas.harvard.edu or hit us up on Twitter @ImperiiaProject.

View the Catalog

Upcoming installment: Vol. 1: History Through Playing Cards (published May 13, 2022)