Running records and the automated reconstruction of historical narrative

All social science research is concerned with the study of change, yet most scholars who use quantitative methods - historians, sociologists, and economists alike - have been unable to exploit fully data sources which illuminate how social change actually occurs. We have developed a methodology, known as "running records", which allows researchers not only to use data sources, such as census schedules and tax lists which are essentially static, but also by exploiting the power of the computer, to utilize the vast of materials which record the events and transactions of everyday life for large populations - sources which document the process of change itself, as it relates to existing structures and institutions.