The term ‘prosopography’ is applied to studies in a wide range of Humanities and Social Science Disciplines. A common denominator linking these studies is that they all proceed from the collection and analysis of data relating to the careers and relationships of people within a particular group. For some prosopographical studies, the main objective is to compile and publish a dataset in a format which is valuable to students and scholars in a particular field of research; for others, the compilation of prosopographical dataset is simply the first stage in wider process of analysis and interpretation.
The application of computer technology has vastly enhanced the potential of prosopographical studies. In particular, it has made size manageable, and prosopographies these days are often very large. The key input in a prosopography’s value, though, and the major element in a project’s costs, is not the IT but the expertise of the staff involved in making the data-base and harnessing the IT power appropriately.
PDG has been funded by the Ilia State University (ISU) and its Institute of Linguistic Research to create a resource for scholars, students and anyone else with an interest in 20th Century Georgia and Soviet history. The objective of the project has been to compile a prosopographical dataset for Pre-Soviet and Soviet Georgia that is as comprehensive and accessible as possible given the available resources. Priority has therefore been afforded to achieving the greatest possible range and depth of coverage of the available primary sources, and to making the data as accessible as possible in the way it is presented and structured through the web interface. During this first two years of project, PDG has focused more on the compilation and presentation of data than on prosopographical analysis and interpretation.
At the start of PDG a survey was made of the primary sources (daily newspaper - "Communist", archived documents of The Georgian Communist Party's Central Committee and those of the Georgian SSR State Security Committee et cet.) for the period 1921 to 1937. The sources were then listed according to the year when they were written or compiled, and this information was incorporated into the PDG annual project plan. After an year our team was able to put hands on the Ministries’ documents of the First Georgian Republic (1918-1921), thus expand prosopographic network to the Pre-Soviet era in Georgia.
The core of the PDG web publication is a database, which identifies Persons who are recorded or referred to the Sources researched. The term ‘factoid’ refers to the assertions that Sources make about the Persons. Factoids include a variety of personal information: offices, events in which they participated in some way and et cet. Persons do not appear on web-page (http://prosopography.iliauni.edu.ge - draft version) unless they are linked both to Factiods and to Sources. This principle is rigorously applied so that users are in a position to follow the Person-to-Source ‘trail’, and to make their own reference to the relevant Source at any stage.
Each assertion by a source about one or more persons is referred as a ‘factoid’. Information about persons was recorded in the database with as little interpretation as reasonably possible. Sets of factoids were searched, analysed and displayed, so that researchers could draw their own interpretative conclusions, or follow the references back to the sources from which the factoids were derived. The set of factoids thus represents a systematic and structured view of what have been regarded as key types of personal information: