Reconstructing Lifespans Through Historical Marriage Records of Barcelona from the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries

  • Francisco Villavicencio
  • Joan Pau Jordà
  • Joana M. Pujadas-Mora


This chapter presents a methodology for reconstructing the lifespan of individuals through a nominal record linkage procedure using historical marriage records of Barcelona from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The data are extracted from the Barcelona Historical Marriage Database (BHMD), a unique source that contains information about more than 600,000 marriages celebrated in both urban and rural parishes of the Barcelona area from over 450 years (1451–1905). We discuss the main characteristics of the database, the standardisation of the nominal information, the marriage linkage procedure and the reconstruction of the lifespans. Finally, we briefly introduce an application of Bayesian models to study adult mortality on the basis of the reconstructed lifespans.


Markov Chain Monte Carlo Seventeenth Century Potential Parent Multiple Candidate Multiple Link 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work is part of the Advanced Grant Project Five Centuries of Marriages (2011–2016) funded by the European Research Council (ERC 2010-AdG-20100407). The authors would like to express their gratitude to its principal investigator, Anna Cabré, for her support and guidance. We would also like to thank all of the members of the project, especially Miquel Amengual, Joan Mas, and Conchi Villar. Special mention goes to Sofia Aldabet, Fernando Colchero, Miriam Hils, Trifon Missov, and James Vaupel.


  1. Bartolini, I., Ciaccia, P., & Patella, M. (2002). String matching with metric trees using an approximate distance. In String processing and information retrieval (pp. 271–283). Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  2. Bas Vidal, J. (1988). Els cognoms catalans i la seva història. Barcelona: Cap Roig.Google Scholar
  3. Baucells, J. (2002). Esposalles de l’arxiu de la catedral de Barcelona: un fons documental únic (1451–1905). Butlletí del Servei d’Arxius, 35, 1–2.Google Scholar
  4. Bloothooft, G. (1998). Assessment of systems for nominal retrieval and historical record linkage. Computers and the Humanities, 32(1), 39–56.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cabré, A., Pujadas-Mora, J. M. (2011). Five centuries of marriages (5CofM): A project of historical demography in the Barcelona area. Papers de Demografia, 368.Google Scholar
  6. Carreras Candi, F. (1913). Les obres de la catedral de Barcelona (1298–1445). Boletín de la Real Academia de Buenas Letras, 49, 22–30.Google Scholar
  7. Christen, P. (2012). Data matching: Concepts and techniques for record linkage, entity resolution, and duplicate detection. Heidelberg: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Colchero, F., & Clark, J. S. (2012). Bayesian inference on age-specific survival for censored and truncated data. Journal of Animal Ecology, 81, 139–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Colchero, F., Jones, O. R., & Rebke, M. (2012). BaSTA: An R package for Bayesian estimation of age-specific survival from incomplete mark-recapture/recovery data with covariates. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 3, 466–470.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dopico, F., & Rowland, R. (1990). Demografía del censo de Floridablanca. Una aproximación. Revista de Historia Económica/ Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History (Second Series), 8(3), 591–618.Google Scholar
  11. Fabra, P. (1932). Diccionari general de la llengua catalana. Barcelona: Llibreria Catalònia.Google Scholar
  12. Feliu, G. (1999). La demografia baixmedieval catalana: estat de la qüestió i propostes de futur. Revista d’Història Medieval, 10, 13–43.Google Scholar
  13. Gaudemet, J. (1987). Le mariage en Occident: les moeurs et le droit. Paris: Ed. du Cerf. English edition: Gaudemet, J. (2002). Marriage in the western world: Morals and the law (I. Roche, Trans.). Paris: University of Notre Dame Press.Google Scholar
  14. Gelman, A., Carlin, J. B., Stern, H. S., & Rubin, D. B. (2004). Bayesian data analysis (2nd ed.). London: Chapman and Hall.Google Scholar
  15. Moll, F. B. (1959). Els llinatges catalans (Catalunya, País Valencià, Illes Balears): assaig de divulgació lingüística. Palma de Mallorca: Editorial Moll.Google Scholar
  16. Muñoz Pradas, F. (1990). Creixement demogràfic, mortalitat i nupcialitat al Penedès (segles XVII–XIX). PhD. thesis, Autonomous University of Barcelona.Google Scholar
  17. Nadal, J., & Giralt, E. (2000). Immigració i redreç demogràfic: els francesos a la Catalunya dels segles XVI i XVII. Barcelona: Eumo Editorial.Google Scholar
  18. R Core Team. (2013). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for statistical computing, Vienna.
  19. Ruggles, S. (2002). Linking historical censuses: A new approach. History and Computing, 14(1–2), 213–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Sánchez Rubio, R., & Testón Núñez, I. (2012). Situación y perspectiva de los estudios de antroponimia en la España moderna. In L’Italia dei cognomi: l’antroponimia italiana nel quadro mediterraneo (pp. 75–122). Nancy: The University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Simon Tarrés, A. (1996). La població catalana a l’edat moderna. Deu estudis. Monografies Manuscrits. Bellaterra: Autonomous University of Barcelona.Google Scholar
  22. Stroustrup, B. (2013). The C++ programming language (4th ed.). New York: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  23. Torrents, A. (1993). Transformacions demogràfiques en un municipi industrial català: Sant Pere de Riudebitlles (1608–1935). Ph.D. thesis, University of Barcelona.Google Scholar
  24. Wagner, R. A., & Fischer, M. J. (1974). The string-to-string correction problem. Journal of the ACM, 21(1), 168–173.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francisco Villavicencio
    • 1
  • Joan Pau Jordà
    • 2
  • Joana M. Pujadas-Mora
    • 2
  1. 1.Max Planck Institute for Demographic ResearchRostockGermany
  2. 2.Centre for Demographic StudiesAutonomous University of BarcelonaBellaterraSpain

Personalised recommendations