George S. Vascik

 Research blog


Re-reading Wolfram Pyta

I have been very closely re-reading Pyta, Dorfgemeinschaft und Partiepolitik. My initial idea was to more fully understand his conceptual framework. Initially. But I have been caught up in the pure erudition of his monograph. Currently, I am working through his sections of the place of teachers and pastors in Bauerndörfer. I really respect how deeply he has mined all available sources.

Yesterday, one footnote (p. 56) in particular jumped out at me: Oldenburg parishes had the lowest Sunday attendance in North Germany, 11.49% in 1925. Many of the parishes in Oldenburg and the interior of the Weser-Elbe Dreieck were in fact were quite large and it was unlikely that all parishoners regularly attended Sunday services. Clearly, pastoral influence varied over distance. In my earlier work, I have measured the distance of each village center to the nearest railroad station by nearest path. What I could do, starting with the smaller subset of my Bremervörde data, is to calculate the distance from each village center to it parish church. If Pyta's hypothesis is valid, as I assume it is, I could run a  regression demonstrating a strong positive correlation. In work I presented in Vancouver at the SSHA conference ("Loß von Preußen: A Spatial and Statistical Analysis of the 1924 Referendum on Hanoverian Independence"), I demonstrated the parish in which a village was located had a high positive correlation to whether that village's voters supported the Hanoverian independence referendum of May 1924. Currently, I am lumping larger groups of villages into parish units, when I might learn more if I could get a finer-grained analysis.


Update to Peasants and Jews  GIS

When I created my GIS of the 582 polling places in the northwest German territories of East Friesland, Oldenburg, and the Weser-Elbe Dreieck as they existed between 1893 and 1933, I was a spatial neoophyte and autodidact. As a result, the polygons that I created were not georeferenced. As my expertise in GIS evolved and as I attended more conferences where I saw how georeferenceing would enhance my work, I knew that I had to move to the next stage. The hold-up was time. I calculate that it took me circa 1000 hours to create the polygon boundaries for my initial GIS. In the summer of 2012, I decided to finally bite the bullet. I am creating my new boundary files using Bing aerial maps in ARC-Map at a 1:10,000 scale for land boundaries and 1:5000 scale for watercourses. It is amazing the amount of detail that this reveals! At this point in time, I have created georeferenced polygons for the counties of Bremervörde, Hadeln, Neuhaus, Kehdingen, Stade, and Jork in the Weser-Elbe region, and Aurich, Norden, and Wittmund in East Friesland. I expect to finish creating all 582 new, georeferenced places in the summer of 2013.

At the same time that I began creating the new boundary file, John Williams, GIS expert at Miami's BEST Library, georeferenced two maps for me: one displaying the landscape types of north Germany and another the soil types. Over Christmas break, I drew these boundaries and am now able to delineate the type of landscape on each commune was situated and the underlying soil typology of each place. These boundaries are fine-grained down to the field level, which will give me an even more robust dataset. In terms of landscape, this goes beyond the tripartite division of drained wetlnds (Marsch), sandy loam (Geest), and Moor. I am able to display and differentiate statistically the breakdown of these types into Old and New Marsch, Geest and end morraine, and high and low Moor. Each of these landscape types were cultivated differently and had different settlement and field patterns, and had developed different social/political cultures. The soil typology map is incredibly intense, with 32 forms of soil of varying classes present. As I entered the data over Christmas, my daughter, a soil science major at Ohio State, helped explain some of the qualities of the different types. (I hope to pick her brain more thoroughly over the summer!)

During my spare hours, I have also been inputing landholding data for the Prussian areas from the 1912 Handbuch des Grundbesitzes im Deutschen Reiche. One thing that has jumped out at me as I have entered the data is the large number of landowners per commune in the Marsch villages of Hadeln and Kehdingen, while Bremervörde has few. Once this georeferenced prosopography of landowners is in place, I want to link the names to newspaper advertisements for political rallies.

... Post in progress ...

To view my results, see

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