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’.