The European Historical Population Samples Network (EHPS-Net) brings together scholars to create a common format for databases containing non-aggregated information on persons, families and households. This format or Intermediate Data Structure (IDS) forms an integrated and joint interface between many European databases.

During the project period, the main databases will convert their material to the IDS format. In the meantime, dataextraction programmes for different types of studies (e.g., on migration and fertility) are being prepared in close collaboration between researchers and programmers. The intended system is open, scalable and extendable. New types of analysis can be introduced by adding new extraction modules. Anyone can contribute an extraction module, which will be peer-reviewed and published in an e-journal. Programming will be organised in research projects delivering demonstrators of extraction scripts and datasets for research.

The network creates a portal that provides access to the European databases, as well as to important non-European ones which have joined the network. On the portal site an overview will be given of all databases, their contents and the degree to which their variables have been structured to fit into the IDS. The portal will also centralise and systematise the data extraction software. The site will present the standardisation rules, metadata and documentation and make them downloadable.

Thus, the existing expertise will be made available to the research community. Our activities include stimulating the creation of new databases and organising training sessions in participating countries where historical population databases are still scarce.

We focus on scholars who, by creating regional or national databases, have advanced the field of (historical) demography in their respective countries. The network allows them to proceed beyond the boundaries of their individual datasets, by creating a common interface for the history of the life course. In this way, we can understand the historical dimensions of the challenges faced by contemporary European (and global) populations.

The running period of the EHPS-Net Research Networking Programme is five years, from July 2011 to October 2016.