Septembre 16th 2016 Workshop «Classifying trade statistics before 1945»

Chers collègues,

J’ai le plaisir le vous informer de la tenue d’une journée de travail « Classifier le commerce international avant 1945 » à SciencesPo Paris (salle Goguel) le 16 septembre 2016.

Vous êtes tous cordialement invités. Pour des raisons de sécurité (et pour que nous sachions combien de plateaux-repas commander), merci de vous inscrire auprès de Biljana Jankovic

Sincères salutations,

Guillaume Daudin



Classifying international trade before 1945

Classifier le commerce international avant 1945

September 16th 2016
Salle Goguel, SciencesPo, 27 rue Saint Guillaume, 75007 Paris

The long history of globalization is blessed with a comparative abundance of data. Foreign trade has long been a sizable source of income for states and the latter have been careful in collecting information on it: series on international trade starting in the eighteenth century exist for several countries and regions such as England, France, Sweden, the Austrian Netherlands, Venice, Portugal, Spain. (Charles et Daudin 2015). The Sound records go back even further. Hence, much information on past economies may be gained through the systematic collection of these data. This calls for the creation of large databases and there are a number of active projects, under different states of readiness: Ireland, Norway, UK, World, France, Germany, the Sound… The identification and classification of commodities is at the core of any project that want to use these databases for comparative analysis or even to simply use the information collected to its potential.

For example, in the French case, there are more than 45,000 different merchandises mentioned in the 18th century sources (for 400,000 trade flows). Correcting for mistakes made by the original scribes and the person in charge of the transcription brings that number down to 20,000. Further identifying synonyms brings it down to 16,000. It is however necessary to devise some sort of aggregation process to be able to use the data collected to answer a wider set of economic history issues such as those linked to the question of trade diversification, intra-industry trade and revealed comparative advantages.

An additional difficulty is international comparison. There are more problems linked to it than the sole issue of translation. The creation of internationally comparable merchandise classification was a long process starting only in the late 19th century (Kolesnikoff 1953) and it is still a work in progress. Yet, it is central to any comparison process.

Choosing a classification to categorize commodities should meet several criteria: it has to be informed by past practices of recording flows (which are different from one place and one time to another), the characteristics of the past society/economy where trade took place, convenience (as classifying goods is hard work), and the research issue. Among the possible options are: 1. the adaptation of modern nomenclatures, which have a great level of detail, accuracy and comparability, but hardly relates to the economic issues of past societies; or 2. the creation of a tailor-made historical nomenclature, which takes into account the historical context of commercial exchange but begs the issue of intertemporal (and often geographical) comparisons. Moreover, creating a nomenclature takes a lot of time in particular if one wants to produce disaggregated categories. A flexible system of classification that can be integrated in data exploration in order to be able to create detailed categorization for specific purposes within a reasonable amount of time and resources would be ideal. But that requires to invest a substantial amount of work in the creation of sophisticated digital tools, as endeavored by the project TOFLIT18 (


9.00-10.45 What can classifications of goods teach us ?

Wolf-Fabian Hungerland (Humboldt) «Making historical international trade data useful: German product-level data from 1880 to 1913 and the Standard International Trade Classification (SITC)» .Co-author : Chris Altmeppen
Ana Carreras Marin (Barcelona) «Standardization of Latin American trade statistics. Sources and methodology for a study on the diversification of export baskets » Co-authors:  M. Badia-Miró and A. Rayes
Michael Huberman (Montréal) Domestic and International Trade in Interwar Brazil: Complements or Substitutes?

11.00-12.00 Early stages of data collection

Aidan Kane (Galway) « Customs 15: constructing a database of Ireland’s international trade 1698-1784 »
David Jacks (Simon Fraser) « British Trade Statistics, 1700-1899 »

1.30-3.00 Struggling with the classification of goods (1)

Bertrand Blancheton (Bordeaux) « Choosing a product nomenclature: the French case 1836-1938 »
Ragnhild Hutchinson (University of Oslo and Norwegian Institute of Local history ) « The Norwegian customs project- classification and standardization- a practical solution? »

3.15-4.45 Struggling with the classification of goods (2)

Jan Willem Veluwenkamp (Groningen) « Sound Toll Registers Online, 1497-1857. Standardisation and classification issues. »
Pierre Gervais (Paris-3) « your ‘goods’ are not my ‘products’; a preliminary methodological discussion of our instinctive belief in the permanence of things over time and of its unintended consequence. »

5.00-6.00 Wrapping up

Loïc Charles (Paris-8) and Guillaume Daudin (Dauphine) : «Multi dimensional classification of goods in a datascape : the TOFLIT18 project»
General discussion and wrapping up
This event is open to all. It is funded by the ANR TOFLIT18 (
Organizers: Guillaume Daudin ( & Loïc Charles (
Inscriptions & information: Biljana Jankovic ( 01 45 49 72 51 or

References :

Charles, Loïc, et Guillaume Daudin, éd. 2015. « Eighteenth Century International Trade Statistics: Sources and Methods ». Revue de l’OFCE (Special Issue), no 140: 7‑377.
Kolesnikoff, Vladimir S. 1953. « Commodity classification ». In International Trade Statistics, par R. G. D. Allen et J. Edwards Ely. New-York and London: John Wiley & Sons Inc. and Chapman & Hall, Limited.


July 5th 2016 meeting

July 5th 2016 meeting

Attending: Loïc Charles, Guillaume Daudin, Béatrice Dedinger, Frederico d’Onofrio, Meng Ying Du, Pierre Hollegien, Pierre Gervais , Paul Girard, Corentin Ponton, Grégory Tible, Quentin Vidal.,

  1. Ricardo

Following the meeting with Federico and Tena, some changes have been implemented to the datascape: bilateral trade flows and world flows are now separated; the Federico-Tena database has been added in the metadata view where partners can be displayed by color. Moreover, it is now possible to compare the Ricardo’s best-guess with the Federico-Tena’s one in the country view: they largely match except for a period where exports are missing.

The project is to be presented at the digital humanity conference newt week.

  1. Transcriptions

Hasna achieved her tasks: she completed every import in Marseille, and the ones in Nantes until 1761. Requia has not made such good time: about 10 years of exports in Marseille are still to be retranscribed (1741 and 1742 are very difficult to read and are hard to read, Loic will have to deal with them).

Demba is going to complete Bordeaux and will start transcription for imports or export in Nantes.

  1. Verifications

Loïc is still checking transcriptions. There are many difficulties: typos (easy to correct), computing errors, wrong unity of measure (more annoying), etc. Trade records were on average better done in big direction than in small ones. Marseille represents a lot of works (about 2500 lines per year – a big day of work is not enough to deal with one year).

Total sums computed by the copyist does not always match with the ones computed by ourselves, but the later are to be preferred because of the excessive rounding or computing errors made by copyists.

  1. Merchandises

Since 1815, merchandises’ names appear to be much more heterogenous, which increases the work of orthographic normalization and simplification. However, it can be explained by the large number of braces in the products’ labels that are used to distinguish classification and specification.

  1. SITC

Pierre Gervais is pursuing the classification of the goods, but his facing some difficulties due to the state of the “simplification” file. Most problems wil be tackled by an algorithm that does not integrate every spelling yet.

Beatrice proposes to make a unique and universal classification of products from the 18th century. It sounds like an enormous project for the moment though

  1. Datascape

New classifications have been added up to the datascape or updated: Medicinal Products by Pierre Hollegien, North American products by Quentin Vidal, Eden Treaty by Corentin Ponton. The grains’s classification made by Federico d’Onofrio is still to be uploaded. “Revised” classifications are now the standard ones.

Bugs of interface are being fixed, especially when selecting parameters for plotting network views.

Guillaude Daudin asked Paul Girard and Gregory Tible on the possibility to implement a new feature in the datascape. It would consist in a tool allowing us to pick terms from a daughter classification and use them in a mother classification. The mother environment would be filtered by the daughter classification.

  1. Next Meetings

No more TOFLIT meetings before the end of the summer holidays.
Research of a room that could host the 16
th September meeting, and discussion about an accommodation in Chicago for October.


June 8th 2016 meeting

Merci à Corentin et Quentin pour la première version du compte rendu de la réunion du 8 juin.

Guillaume Daudin, Béatrice Dedinger, Meng Ying Du, Pierre Gervais , Paul Girard, Corentin Ponton, Grégory Tible, Elisa Tirindelli, Quentin Vidal.

1)    Retranscription
Imports coming from Marseille are done, but are still to verify.
Marseille’s exports however should be done in two weeks, as well as 1789 sources.
Moreover, Demba will achieve entering Nantes and Bordeaux sources before long
Cyril Canet is doing Rennes and Nantes ones
Quentin Vidal is completing the 1823 Table of Quantities, while Corentin Ponton in entering unit prices from 1819 to 1821.
Since character recognition does not work (even on printed registers), manual retranscription is necessary, even though it is long and dull. Anyway, we really would like to stop it by the end of summer, so as to focus on the database exploitation.

2)    Verifications
1789 is nearly done (only 4 directions are left) 1789, and then it will be over.
For England, 1787 and 1788 still need to be done.
Idem for Marseille’s imports. It is a long job (between 2000 and 3000 observations each year).

3)    Identification of commodities and classification
We are still following the 21th century Standard International Trade Classification (SITC) proposed by United Nations to group the nearly 20 000 goods of the dataset by category. However, Pierre Gervais is facing some difficulties regarding particular products and groups which are completely meaningful nowadays but did not make any sense back in the 18th century.
For instance, he evokes the case of medicinal products that were often considered as food supplies in those days (such as the saffron, which is also used as a dye). Besides, dye plants and tinctures are also mistaken.
Tea is an issue for 0a/0b as it can be both be produced by local farmers or on plantations.
So far, about 20% of the 15 000 goods are classified, although a large part of them goes in “category x” whenever a doubt arises. By the way, a great share of commodities is also labelled as raw materials, which is certainly overestimated. This work should be done by the end of the month.

Furthermore, Elisa’s Hambourg classification is available on the datascape, while Quentin aims at creating a classification for specific Canadian products and Corentin for products impacted by the Eden Treaty

4)    Elisa Tirindelli
Elisa Tirindelli defended her master thesis this week: she tried to explain the effects of war on French exports by distinguishing the effect on colonial exports (sugar and coffee) and non-colonial ones (wine and spirits).
She will pursue a PhD track in Dublin next year in historical and urban economics.

5)    Datascape
Paul Girard and Gregory Trible have improved the performances of the website. They created two new tabs from the “Global tab”: Countries Network and Product Terms. The former is not completely working by now but will display interesting information on countries relationships in trade, while the later could return details on the complexity of merchandises by analyzing every term of each commodity.
The metadata tab has seen a few improvements. However, we would also like to aggregate flows by classification. For instance, we would like to see how the “pays grouping” classification has evolved through the decades so as to understand how Toscane, Piémont and other provinces were assimilated in Italy by the statistics.
Besides, as some particular mixes of criteria do not obviously exhibit any results (since they are completely irrelevant), we should give users more information and advises regarding requests, by the means of help pop-ups or FAQ.

Gregory Tible’s internship is nearly over; he will leave Sciences Po at the end of July. Paul will Guillaume Plique might punctually intervene on the datascape. But Paul will do the main work. The additional budget will be necessary to find some help.

6)    Ricardo
Ricardo is doing well. The team has been chasing bugs and developing the mew Metadata view (issue of mirror rates)
After that, it will be back to data management (eg source cleaning).

7)    Next meetings
•    June 22nd: (Ricardo meeting) with Giovani Federico and Antonio Tena
•    July 5th, 9.30am at the Médialab: last TOFLIT meeting before summer holidays.
•    September 16th – 17th: public meeting with people from the English project, Norway, Ireland and the STRO (7 guests have already favorably answered); internal meeting on Saturday 17th.
•    October 14th in Chicago: need to obtain more details from Loic Charles.

May 11th 2016 meeting

May 11th Toflit meeting
Attending : Requia Bouali, Loïc Charles, Guillaume Daudin, Béatrice Dedinger, Federic d’Onofrio, Meng Ying Du, Hasna El-Adel, Pierre Gervais, Paul Girard, Corentin Ponton, Grégory Tible, Elisa Tirindelli, Quentin Vidal

1. Presentations

2. Retranscriptions
– For Marseille, Requia is doing year 1749 and Hasna 1751.
– Laura is working on 1789.
– By the end of May, we should have most of Marseille + Nantes.
– Demba will finish afterward. We plan to stop in July.
– Corentin Ponton adding some unit values from 1815 to 1821. But they are not bilateral : it seems like there is a double aggregation of values and quantities because computing of average prices exhibits wrong results.
– Quentin Vidal is transcribing post-1815 sources by the customs, that indicate quantities and duties.

3. Verifications
•    Loic Charles is checking the retranscription of Grenoble and England sources (4 to 5 thousands lines a day). He expects to end this job by September.
After summer holidays, we should stop retranscripting of new sources so as to focus on the database exploitation.

4. Identification
– Identification of commodities is nearly done (thanks to Quentin and Corentin); some doubts remain concerning strange words, though most of them might come from foreign languages (Dutch or Flemish mainly). Note that those unknown goods are worth only small amounts.
– We could use Beccia’s information to enhance the identification
– We could identify some Indian textiles because they all end the same way.
– There are copyist mistakes that are very difficult to correct.

5. Identification
Pierre Gervais and Guillaume are working on the SITC variant we will be offering as one of the classifications. We discuss the difficulties.
•    SITC: consists of a dozen of categories, divided into more sub-categories.
o    Motivation: building bridges between different projects and between different centuries.
o    Drawbacks: frontier between categories might be too blurred, and some goods create ambiguities, about the transformation degree for example. There are way too much commodities in the category “9C: other products”.
o    Should we create a new version of the SITC classification, maybe more fitted to our project but less standardized and thus less internationally recognized?
•    Examples of problems encountered during the classification: What to do with some chemical products, such as medicines that are not always transformed products? With textile goods, made of cotton, silk or something else we do not know?
•    Ideally, we aim for a classification perfectly understandable for someone who does not know anything about the project, or at least anything but the rules of the classification.

6. Quantities in the datascape
We discuss how to integrate quantities in the database. Guillaume suggests we could create one variable / facet for each type of quantities (weight, volume, number and maybe length). In that way, they could be treated like values in the datascape.

7. Work on the datascape
We have a quick discussion on progress of the datascape, and how to treat 1749 and 1751 for National Best Guess

8. Ricardo
We admire the new version of the Metadata view.

9. Next meetings

•    June 8th 2016 (Toflit meeting), at 9h30, Medialab.
•    June 22nd  2016 (Ricardo meeting) with Giovani Federico and Antonio Tena
•    July 5th: last meeting before summer holidays.
•    September 16th : public meeting with people from the English project, Norway, Ireland and the STRO. There will be an internal meeting on Saturday 17th.
•    October 14th in Chicago (financed up to $4500 from Chicago side). It would be nice if Pierre, Paul and Siliva could come.

Hasna El Adel

Bienvenue à Hasna ! Elle nous a rejoint pour former une équipe avec Requia.

Hasna est  actuellement en première année de master Économie des organisations, option Management de Projets Publics et Privés à l’université Paris 8 à Saint-Denis. Elle a préalablement obtenu un diplôme de licence Economie-Gestion dans cette même université en 2015.

Elle a intégré le projet TOFLIT18 le 4 avril 2016 dans le cadre d’un stage de 3 mois, où elle est rattachée à l’Institution National d’Études Démographiques. Elle a  pour mission de faire la retranscription des documents d’importations des villes de Marseille (entre 1726 et 1759) et de Nantes (entre 1731 et 1761).

« Dans le cadre de mon stage, je vais analyser la question du financement d’un projet de recherche (notamment celui de TOFLIT18) et des procédures mises en place pour le dépenser de manière efficace par rapport aux objectifs scientifiques de ce(s) projet(s). Je participe de manière plus générale aux activités administratives du projet, telles que les réunions mensuelles.

Ce stage est une manière pour moi de découvrir le secteur public, qui m’était jusque-là inconnu car n’ayant eu que des expériences dans le secteur privé. De plus, c’est une initiation au monde de la recherche que je ne connaissais pas. »


Requia Bouali

Bienvenue à Réquia dans l’équipe !

Réquia Bouali a intégré le projet ANR TOFLIT18 dans le cadre d’un stage d’une durée de 3 mois. Elle effectue principalement la tâche de retranscription des documents de la balance commerciale de la Direction de Marseille pour les années 1726 à 1780.

« J’ai toujours été fascinée par le travail des chercheurs, notamment en science sociale. C’est d’ailleurs la raison pour laquelle je me suis intéressée à la recherche. Ayant effectué une licence de sociologie à l’université Paris 8 Vincennes Saint-Denis, je me suis ensuite spécialisée en anthropologie. Je fais également, en parallèle, un second master. Il s’agit du Master Économie et Management des Projets Publics et Privés.

Je vois à travers ce stage le moyen de me familiariser, d’une part, avec le monde du travail dans une institution publique et, d’autre part, celui de répondre à certains de mes questionnements relatifs à la vie de chercheur. Cela me permettra de mieux définir mon projet futur qui est de poursuivre à terme un travail de thèse.

Participer à la réalisation du projet TOFLIT18, me donne envie de donner le meilleur de moi-même et me procure un sentiment de fierté. En effet, l’ampleur du projet, mêlant à la fois l’histoire, la géographie et l’économie en France dans le XVIIIe siècle, me permet de découvrir des facettes multiples du travail de chercheur. »




Quentin Vidal

Welcome to Quentin Vidal! He is a student at TSE who will work with the project from April 18th to July 13th. He is currently working on identifying unkown goods in the database (we have nearly 1,200 definitions in our glossary).

« After four years of university education in the Toulouse School of Economics focused on macroeconomics, history and development economics, I now have to seriously consider my professional plans. Thus, this internship should constitute my first approach of the world of the academic research, a field that intrigues me as much as it interests me. Those three-months of observation and work among a research team offer me the opportunity to discover a multi-disciplinary project, involving historians, economists and data scientists all connected by means of some useful, powerful and productive online tools. The thoughtful building of such a large and essential dataset and its subsequent analysis are very challenging aims; both of them require a great curiosity for this historical period, which perfectly matches with my interests. I hope I will be able to add my contribution and am really looking forward to assisting this project. »


Quentin Vidal CV

April 13th meeting

Réunion Toflit 13/04/16

Requia Bouali, Marie-Laure Dagieu, Guillaume Daudin, Béatrice Dedinger, Hasna El-Adel, Paul Girard, Laura Mouton, Grégory Tible, Elisa Tirindelli, Du Meng Ying,

1) Interns
The project is presented to out two new interns : Hasna El-Adel and Requia Bouali. They are working on the retranscription of Marseille and Nantes. We discuss how to use the datascape to facilitate the retranscription

3) Budget
INED has 35,000 € left. We expect to spend approximately 20,000 € this year. At the end of 2016, 80% of the initial budget will have been spent, mainly on wages and contractors.

Sciences Po has 25,000 € left at the end of 2015. 60% of the initial budget has been spent, mainly on wages. After Guillaume Plique and Gregory have been paid, we will have approximately 10,000 € left. We discuss whether we want to transfer this money for other workers in 2017.

Dauphine has 70,000 € left. Only 15% of the initial budget has been spent. This is because Dauphine will mainly take in charge missions and conferences, which will be more important at the end of the project when we will be able to present the data and our research results. We are late in the collection and organization of the data.

4) Datascape
Pierre Gervais is currently working on the SITC classification.

We discuss the chronological repartition of good names. Only roughly 10% of products are mentioned every year, suggesting that semantic variations are very important.

Paul Girard is working on making updates to the datascape easier so that they can be done regularly.
Gregory is working on improving the interface and squashing bugs. For exemple, the server breaks down under searches crossing countries and goods in the indicator visualization.

There is still a bug when trying to search by crossing simplification pays and direction.

5) Ricardo
The source names have been nearly fully streamlined.

Du Meng Ying is working on a new « metadata» visualization. It  shows which data are available from which place: they can be sorted by number of flows in the whole period or by average value of flows.
We discuss the use of absolute value of trade or share for sorting purposes. It would be better to calculate average value as average of the share of what is available, to avoid countries with trade only in 20th century to stand out just in value terms.

Each main viz will have a metadata equivalent. This is done for the Country and the World view, but not yet for the Bilateral view.

6) Meetings
Next meeting is May 11th at 4pm at the médialab 13 rue de l’Université. We discuss our schedule for the end of June without reaching a definite solution.

March 16th meeting

Thank you to Elisa who wrote the first version of this report.


Guillaume Daudin, Béatrice Dedinger, Pierre Gervais, Paul Girard, Guillaume Plique, Grégory Tible, Elisa Maria Tirindelli, Du Meng Ying

1) Database
We have now a new version of normalisation orthographique. We discuss the integration of the work of GD, GP, PG, and ET.
We also have a new version of «simplification».
GD will be working on a new SITC before Cambridge.

We know have a more-or-less working datascape at :
If you want to explore it, please ask Guillaume Daudin for access codes.

2) Ricardo
The paper was accepted and Ricardo will be presented in July. Du Meng Ying is doing her internship on Ricardo at present.
Major work to be done on Ricardo:
– Correcting bugs and adding new views (like the metadata in toflit).
– Creating a flow of data, converging to what was done in toilet. Transferring everything in a github account.

The breakdown into sources is still to be done.

We discuss the integration of an additional « world» trade estimate.

3) Merchandise treatment

– Normalisation orthographique is nearly done. It classifies 44,000 items into 21,000 groups. The only data missing are the data that have not been acquired yet. According to Loic there are 25% more lines to be done, even more according to Pierre.

– Simplification brought normalisation down to 16,500 lines. It still needs to be revised in detail because it still contains some old version of the work. Pierre suggests to organise a group meeting to talk about it and to work on it in a more organized way.

– Original orthographique needs to be cleaned. some products are still unknown and it is necessary to understand what they are. Pierre says they are not many.

– Catégorisation issue:

Pierre G. is of the opinion that the 1789 categorization (c. 250 categories) is not very coherent and might not work well on the entire dataset.

Guillaume D. suggested to use categorization 1788 because it contains all the data and in addition it links XVIII to XIX century data.

Pierre is skeptical, in his opinion we are looking for categories that will be useful to economists and economic analysis and maybe the best idea would be to come up with a new proposal of classification in the style of 2 digit sitc.

In the end, we decide to work directly on a 20 groups categorization (sitc18_rev3). GD is to do the job (he needs it for Cambridge !)

4) The June meeting in  Chicago project is cancelled. We will try to do an other in December or late winter. We will try to re-use part of our ideas for the 2018 Boston WEHC conference ?

5) Schedule for next meetings :
–  13 April 13  14.30, room 84 rue de Grenelle
– 11 May 16.00, medialab
– 8 June 9.30, medialab
– 1 July 9.30, medialab

6) Paul suggests to do a “for paper sprint” in July (1st ?) or September to provide data generation and exploration specifically need to paper in progress. We need to discuss that.

7) 2018 Boston WEHC conference : do a BYOD (we need to contact organizers). Or maybe a big database thing with Berlin ?

Gregory Tible

Bienvenue à Grégory Tible, qui nous a rejoint début février pour une période d’alternance jusqu’à fin juillet.

Grégory Tible est étudiant depuis deux années à l’école 42 pour une formation d’architecte de l’information numérique. Il était auparavant chargé de veille et d’étude en agence web après avoir fait des études d’histoire.

Il a intégré le projet ANR TOFLIT 18 dans le cadre d’une alternance auprès du medialab de Sciences Po Paris. Il effectuera diverses missions telles que la création de visualisations de données, le développement de l’interface du site et la mise à jour de la base de données.

« Ma participation à ce projet est pour moi l’occasion de découvrir le travail de recherche associant économistes, historiens et informaticiens. Je peux apprécier au plus près les efforts apportés par l’équipe pour aboutir à un outil permettant d’embrasser la complexité des données recueillies. Personnellement, ce projet est un beau challenge de traitement et de visualisation de données.»

February 19th 2016 meeting

Meeting Toflit18 – 19/02/2016

Attending :
Loïc Charles, Guillaume Daudin, Pierre Gervais, Guillaume Plique, Grégory Tibre, Elisa Tirindelli

!!!!! Change of schedule !!!!!! Next meeting will be on Wednesday March 16th, at 14.30 at the médialab.

1. New data
Lyon has given a dilatory answer. Dunkerque would require one week of work. So we will not pursue these opportunities,  focus on what we have already and work on it.
There should be 10 «easy» years to collect each in Narbonne, Annecy and the bibliothèque de l’institut (Paris). One would need te be sponsored for last one. Loïc will give quote for these : we might send interns there.
No news concerning Bayonne.

2. Verification
1789 imports are done.
Marseille sill needs to be done + 2 two years for Nantes + the Eden treaty data.

3. Retranscription
1789 imports are done
Laura is working on 1789 exports.
Marseilles is finished (Thasectra + 2 interns).
Cyril or Dauphine interns must still do Bordeaux, and the remaining years for Nantes and Rennes.

4. Interns
– Elisa Tirindelli (PSE M2 student) will work till May 31st/early June. She will work on trade with the North for her master thesis + on simplification.
– Corentin Ponton (Dauphine M1 student) who will work on the project from May 2 to July 29. He will contribute on unknown products. His aim is to build a gravity model.
– Quentin Vidal (TSE M1 student) will work from April 18 to July 13.
– Victoria Sessego (Cachan 1st year student) might start working in September one day a week).
– Requia Bouali (Paris-8 AES + M1 Sociology + M2 Anthropology) will work from April 4 till July 1 every day except for Tuesdays on retranscriptions (till May 15th) + a thesis on the organisation of INED
– Hasna El Adel is a Paris-8 M2 student (with a licence in Economics). She will work on retranscription (till May 15th) + a thesis on the TOFLIT project as an exemple of good practices.

5. Database
There are currently three versions of the database:
– the «old» Neo4J
– the «up to date» bdd_centrale.csv
– the work based on Pierre’s orthographic normalization

As an estimate, we will have an additional 150,000 observations to add to the existing 380,000.

6. Treatment of merchandises
We then have a lively discussion on how best to proceed for the treatment of goods.

Pierre suggests putting everything back to singular in orthographic normalization. We also discuss an automatic treatment of singulars and plurals automatic. automatise the calculus on the database to calculate singular and plural. This is put off till latter. More details follow :

– tout remettre au singulier: pour la lecture c’est peu attrayant, mais ça serait une solution si nous continuons à essayer de rentrer les marchandises dans la normalisation orthographique « au fil de l’eau ». Solution rejetée dans la discussion parce que a) reconvertir est trop lourd (Loïc) b) de tout façon faire « au fil de l’eau » est trop compliqué (moi)

– d’où la solution choisie: un petit algorithme à appliquer une fois la normalisation terminée, qui vérifie que ce qui est au singulier doit bien être au singulier, et ce qui est au pluriel doit bien être au pluriel. Sous le contrôle de Guillaume, voici ce que ça donnerait:

pour le mot x

if forme normalisée orthographique = forme singulier du dictionnaire
trouver forme plurielle dans dictionnaire
calculer N occurrences singulier et N occurrences pluriel standard dans base normalisée
calculer % N pluriel / (N pluriel + N singulier)
comparer résultat à choix; changer si le résultat ne correspond pas à la règle choisie (que je rappelle: pluriel seulement quand 75% de pluriel)

if forme normalisée orthographique = forme plurielle du dictionnaire
trouver forme singulier dans dictionnaire
calculer N occurrences singulier et N occurrences pluriel standard dans base normalisée
calculer % N pluriel / (N pluriel + N singulier)
comparer résultat à choix; changer si le résultat ne correspond pas à la règle choisie (idem, 75% pluriel => pluriel)

if forme normalisée orthographique ne correspond à aucune forme, arrêt et avertissement

La seule question est celle de la constitution d’un dictionnaire, mais ça ne me semble pas insoluble. Et effectivement c’est à faire un fois les nouvelles lignes rentrées.

Considering the delays (we need a functioning treatment of goods for the end of March), we discuss wether we should bypass «simplification» and link directly orthographic normalization with the 1789 classification (200/280 items). That latter task seems very ambitious. We decide to go through simplification (even though the resulting file (between 12,000 and 16,000 lines)  still seems very long for the end user) and link with the sitc classification.

We discuss two additional points regarding simplification.
– Shall we keep the «qualities» ? We answer yes as we want not to loose any information at that stage. «harengs séchés» is not the same as « harengs».
– Shall we keep «categories» ? We answer no when they do not add any information. «poissons harengs» is the same as « harengs»  There are two issues with simplification; every product is associated to qualities and to categories,
•    is product plus quality the same as just product?
•    should we keep categories of should we leave them and keep them only in classification?
We should try to think who the users of the data will be and work on data accordingly

7. Gregory’s work
As the meeting is reaching an end, Gregory is simple sent a number of pdfs to illustrate the kind of visualization we need.

8. Datascape
The pre-prod version will be available soon. Please ask Guillaume for access.
Performance issues have been dealt with.
What should we add to the website to be a good tool for research?
In the simplification connection graph: get rid of the products with too few linkages (less than 4) to have those with more linkages clearer and more readable.
Another option is to filter by classification ?
Medicaments: change color of node to reflect hierarchisation ?

9. Chicago : no news. Things should coalesce when Loïc will be there, in March.

Corentin Ponton

We welcome a new membor for the project : Corentin Ponton.  Corentin is a M1 student from Dauphine (Master Affaires Internationales et Développement). He will work with us from May 2nd to July 29th. His project is to use the local data to test the effect of gravity variables on 18th century French trade.

« Ce stage représente pour moi une première approche du monde de la recherche et me permettra d’affiner mon projet professionnel. Actuellement en Master 1 Affaires Internationales et Développement, je souhaite en effet poursuivre mon cursus vers un Master 2 Recherche. Travailler au sein de l’équipe TOFLIT est ainsi pour moi l’opportunité de mêler des problématiques de commerce international mais aussi d’histoire économique, dimensions majeures de mon bagage universitaire. C’est également l’occasion de prendre part à une dynamique de groupe et de découvrir le monde de la recherche universitaire. Les missions qui me sont confiées me motivent grandement et je suis ravi de faire partie de cette aventure pour quelques mois ! »
CV Corentin PONTON

29th January 2016 meeting

Meeting Toflit18 – 29/01/2016

Attending :
Loïc Charles, Guillaume Daudin, Béatrice Dedinger, Federico D’Onofrio, Paul Girard, Jérôme Hericourt, Emmanuelle Lavallée, Ivan Ledezma, Guillaume Plique, Samuel Sanchez, Grégory Tible, Elisa Tirindelli

1 – Discussion around RICardo

2 – Back to Manylines

3 – New data exploration tools for Toflit (with,380 000 trade flows and 44,000 different goods and a number of different partners)
There are for the time being 4 ways to get into the data in the tool.
* Classification
This is where one can treat the multiplicity of names in the data. For each case (goods and parters for the time being), there are at least three steps : orthographic normalisation // simplification (with no loss of information) // categorization (with some information loss)
How to update a classification ?
– Choose one (e.g. simplification)
– Export it in csv
– Open with LibreOffice (UTF-8)
– Modify the three-column file (last 2 columns)
– Import the csv
– This generates an «import report» about the links with the further classifications (e.g. changing «simplification» will have an effect on «categorization»

– Shall we do a versioning ?
– How to treat the «import report» ?

* Metadata
This is where one can see the available flows in the data
One can select the type of breakdown (in addition to year) : (direction, source, goods/partner classificatons, goods/partner simplication, grouping (product ou country)).
This yields 2 graphs :
Number of different groups per year
Number of flows per year

* Indicators
This is where one can see graphs with time series
On can make a selection according to :
– Source Type
– Product
– Country
– Direction
– Kind (import, export, total)

Two curves are created :
– Number of flows by year
– Sum of value by year

There can be up to 6 choices.
For the time being, it is a bit slow, but results are put in a cache to be reused easily

* Globals
This is were on can visualize graphs. The only one available is between directions and partners. The algorithms clusterizes geographical areas.
Latter in the meeting, we realize that it would be useful to be able to link goods and directions and not only partners and directions.
It would be nice also if a term network could be included.

4 – Paper presentations
4.1 Elisa on the analysis of bilateral trade flows between France and Hamburg between 1750-1789

Elisa Presentation_29 01 2016
French dataset (in 2014) : 3407 flows aggregate flows (Hamburg is often included in the North)
German dataset 1609 export flows between 1733-1798
Issues with both datasets : various units of measurement (even for the values) // linking products (changing named) // difficulty with prices and conversion rates
Solutions : work on common years / only on exports
The work that has been done : corrélation of the data in both sources. The correlation is rather strong (0.93 for the evolution of total flows, 0.98 for the breakdown by big sectors, 0.81 for the breakdown by products.

New exploration tools : linear regression and testing the Benford’s law
New questions on exogenous shocks : Seven year war, American revolution war, Interruption of commerce between France and Hamburg (1761-1769), trade liberalisation 1780.
To sum up : how reliable is the data ? What is the effect of wars ? What is the effect of treaties ?

There is a discussion on the share of Hamburg in the North and the importance of discrepancies in Hamburg.

4.2 Federico on Grain trade 1725-1821

Federico Presentation_29 01 2016
Only 6000 trade flows, broken down in 5 categories : Froment / other grains / third class grains / panifiable / transformed goods.
Directions : 6 directions with between 200 and 300 flows in each (only maritime)
Origins : Italie and the Baltic
Exports : colonies, Espagne, Italie, Nord…

Time series :  : the food crisis are very apparent (70-71/89/1817)

Extending the national series: repeated sale method
Distribution of grain trade :  Marseilles is the main export port by a large margin.

Links between the grain trade and population growth ? Role of riots ? The strongest correlation is between riots and t-1 exports. Is that because exports are in the summer and riots in the next spring ? Or because past exports stoke the fear for new permits ?

Projects : look at the geography of trade through GIS ? look at networks ? look at DEMETO models : demography and climate ? Thinking of co-occurences leads us to suggest that in the global view one should be able to link goods and directions and not only partners and directions.

4.3 Ivan and Emmanuelle on international production network in the 18th century Evidence from the French data (abstract)

The breakdown of the value added chain is not a 20th century innovation. They look at the sugar network. French per capita consumption is only 1/10th of English one.
The study of this international value-added chain is interesting. Especially the movement of the location of sugar transformation (which is a high VA activity).
One way to look at it is too look at the words associated with sugar.

The next meeting is at 9.30 of February 19th at the médialab.

Torsten dos Santos Arnold

We are happy to welcome a new member in the project !

Torsten dos Santos Arnold has graduated in Maritime History from the Faculdade de Letras da Universidade de Lisboa (FLUL) and the Portuguese Naval College in 2014. Since February 2015 he is a doctoral researcher in the DFG Project « The Globalized Periphery: Atlantic Commerce, Socioeconomic and Cultural Change in Central Europe (1680-1850) » of the Europa-Universität Viadrina Frankfurt (Oder), Germany.

The research and analysis of French Trade Statistics is part of his PhD thesis titled “Central European Trade via French and Portuguese Seaports – Trans-National Networks and Merchandise (1714-1831)”.


“The analysis of French and Portuguese trade statistics is part of my PhD project on the importance of commodity flows linking the Early Modern Atlantic World with Central Europe. I also focus on the development of foreign merchant communities and networks namely the Central-European merchants in Nantes, La Rochelle and Lisbon along with the French Huguenots and Portuguese Sephardim in Hamburg. The aim of my research is to obtain qualitative and quantitative data for the observation and definition of political and socio-economic patterns of trans-national trade of the 18th and early 19th centuries.”


Torsten dos Santos Arnold CV

Transformations of the french economy through the lens of international trade, 1716-1821