SHiP+ is a network of researchers studying the evolution of mortality and health in port and non-port cities in Europe. The network brings together scholars in social history, historical demography, medical history and historical epidemiology. Port cities in the past acted as ‘gateways of disease’ in the same way that airports today function as hubs for the transmission of infectious diseases. However, inland towns and cities could also present its inhabitants with huge risks of infectious diseases, especially when characterized by high population density and population turnover. At the same time, progress in health was often initiated in and by urban communities as they adopted new sanitary policies and innovative sanitary technologies such as piped water and sewerage.


The ShiP+ network makes use of individual-level cause-of-death data for the entire population of European towns and cities for the 19th and the 20th centuries. These truly unique datasets enable us to go beyond what was captured in highly-aggregated nationally published statistics which make use of extremely limited 19th-century disease classifications. In this way we can evaluate health changes in-depth, being able to study dis-aggregations, by individual disease, by age, sex, etcetera. We can thus reconstruct the epidemiological ‘fingerprints’ of European urban communities and the way these change in an exceptional period in the history of European health, in which life expectancy nearly doubled, infectious diseases sharply declined, and cancers and cardiovascular diseases increased.

Research aims

The aims of the network are:

  • To construct a joint European historical coding system for causes of death, called ICD10h, as well as a number of classification systems, that can be used for comparisons across time and space. The coding system is connected to the modern ICD-10 classification system, enabling the connection between historical developments and current day global health issues.
  • To construct a European multi-lingual dictionary of historical disease terms with reference to the ICD10h code.
  • To promote the systematic comparison of the epidemiological ‘fingerprints’ of the SHiP+ towns and cities across the European continent and to reconstruct spatiotemporal patterns.
  • To conduct a limited number of in-depth case studies from an interdisciplinary approach to study the dynamics of demographic and epidemiological change and their relationships and interactions with large scale socio-economic change, migration flows, local/national health infrastructures, medical knowledge structures, cultural influences and other types of contextual information.
  • To connect the SHiP+ locations to non-European communities to compare their epidemiological ‘fingerprints’.

Network members

Steering committee:

  • prof. Isabelle Devos (Ghent University)
  • prof. Heiner Fangerau (Düsseldorf University)
  • dr. Maria Hiltunen Maltesdotter (Umeå University)
  • prof. Angélique Janssens (Radboud University/Maastricht University)
  • dr. Joana Maria Pujades (OU of Catalonia & Centre for Demographic Studies, Barcelona)
  • prof. Alice Reid (Cambridge University)
  • dr. Barbara Revuelta-Eurgercios (Danish National Archives/Copenhagen University)
  • prof. Hilde Leikny Sommerseth (The Artic University of Norway)

Other network members:

  • dr. Timo Bolt (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
  • dr. Eugenia Bournova (Athens University)
  • prof. Renzo Derosas (Venice University)
  • prof. Martin Dribbe (Lund University)
  • dr. Ankica Dzono-Boban (Institute of Public Health, Dubrovnik)
  • prof. Sören Edvinsson (Umeå University)
  • dr. Joël Floris (University of Zurich)
  • Prof. Elena Glavatskaya (Ural Federal University, Yekaterinburg)
  • prof. H. Murat Güvenç, Kadir Has University, Istanbul
  • dr. Violette Hionidou (Newcastle University)
  • dr. Crinela Holom (Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj)
  • dr. Hannaliis Jaadla (Talinn University)
  • prof. Anne Løkke (Copenhagen University)
  • prof. Grażyna Liczbińska, Adam Mickiewicz University Poznań
  • dr. Paulo Teodoro de Matos (ISCTE-IUL, Lisbon)
  • dr. Cristina Munno (Bologna University)
  • dr. Michael Mühlichen (Federal Institute for Population Research, Wiesbaden)
  • dr. Péter Öri (Hungarian Demographic Research Institute)
  • prof. Ana Sainz-Otero (University of Cadiz)
  • dr. Enriketa Pandelejmoni (University of Tirana)
  • dr. Arantza Pareja (Universidad Granada)
  • dr. Jarmo Peltola (Tampere University)
  • dr. Diego Ramiro Fariñas (Spanish National Research Council)
  • dr. Arne Solli (Bergen University)
  • dr. Evelien Walhout (Leiden University)

The coding committee:

  • dr. Eilidh Garrett (Edinburgh University)
  • dr. Maria Hiltunen Maltesdotter (Umeå University)
  • prof. Angélique Janssens (Radboud University/Maastricht University)
  • prof. Alice Reid (Cambridge University)
Cities and towns being studied by SHiP+
This map shows all urban communities currently incorporated in the network.


If you want more information about the network and its activities, please contact prof. Angélique Janssens.