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A History Project

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A History Project

John
I originally posted this on the Developer List.  Benny suggested I post it here:

I have been using Gramps to put together the genealogy of my family for about
a year and I am impressed by its power and its ease of use.

Another project I have had in mind for many years is the creation of a
database of history.  Being technically rather limited (meaning I can use
applications but not write or adapt them), designing and building a database
from scratch is beyond me: I am wondering if Gramps would be a useful tool.
The purpose of this project is not to satisfy the academics who have
libraries of rich material and like to get into the minutest detail; it is
rather to allow the interested layman, such as myself, an understanding of
the broad sweep of history and how events and people are linked to each
other and together.  At school history was a complete turn off: presented as
a dry and boring set of facts without any narrative, nobody explained or
showed its relevance to today in that to understand where we are we need to
know where we came from.  I am trying now to make up for lost time, and
perhaps others are in the same boat.

If history is considered as the actions or reactions of people who find
themselves in particular circumstances, then Gramps seems a suitable
starting point as it leads with people.  Individuals as well as their
families, be they imperial, royal, tyrannical, clerical, aristocratic,
entrepreneurial, military, or political are a feature of history.  

Events would need some treatment.  In addition to the ‘Personal’ and
‘Family’ events there would need to be ‘Historical’ events with a greatly
expanded list of types (to include, for example, Invasion, War, Battle, Law,
Treaty, Constitution, Court Decision, Strike, Riot, Protest, Economic
Policy, Military Strategy, Election, Coup, Political Party, etc.  Other
types such as Appointment, Resignation, Dismissal, Assassination,
Assumption, Abdication, Coronation, Inauguration, etc. are also necessary,
but it needs to be decided if they belong in ‘Personal, ‘Historical’, or
another separate class).  And then there are ‘Natural’ events (Floods,
Drought, Famine, Fire, Plague, Disease, Earthquake, Tsunami, Hurricane,
Typhoon, etc.), and ‘Development’ events (Medical Advance, Scientific
Theory, Scientific Discovery, Economic System, Political System, Social
Change, Technological Invention, etc.) although these two could be included
in the ‘Historical’ class.
Events would not necessarily be linked to people – many, for example the
‘Natural’ events, could not be.
Events need to be developed to have causes (just as people have parents) and
consequences (as people have children).  Causes and consequences, which are
often multiple, are other existing or new events.  And so there needs to be
an Events Relationship Category.

While keeping the reports concerning people, there would need to be added
similar reports based on events.  For example a report on the consequences
of the death of John of Gaunt in 1399 would show it lead to the death of
King Richard II, the Lancastrians taking power, the Wars of the Roses, the
eventual Tudor take over and all the social and religious changes that
followed: however, it would need to show how other causes contributed along
the way.

I simple do not know if it is feasible to modify Gramps to suit this
project.
Is it possible?
Is anybody interested?
Is it worth debating?
Is there a need?
Is there another database already existing that is more suitable?

John
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