Put simply, quantitative history is history that involves the use of
numeric dataor other evidence that can be countedas a primary
source for analysis and interpretation.
Quantitative history comes in many shapes and sizes. Some quantitative
studies focus on small groups of people; others encompass huge populations.
Some quantitative studies use data originally collected in numeric form,
such as tax assessments or business ledgers; others involve the conversion
of non-numeric evidence, such as city directories or church membership
lists, into numeric form as a first step of analysis. Some quantitative
studies employ rudimentary mathematical techniques (such as addition,
subtraction, multiplication, and division) to analyze numeric data;
others make use of highly sophisticated statistical procedures and mathematical
model-building based on complex theoretical assumptions.
This guide aims to provide a good sense of what quantitative historians
do and why they do it, but it does not pretend to offer instruction
in upper-level statistics. The hope is that you will gain a basic comfort
level with quantitative methods, which will in turn allow you to use
numeric sources in your own historical research just as you would use
other kinds of sources, such as letters, photographs, and newspaper