Judging by the positive reactions it seems that many of you have enjoyed my occasional posts highlighting the earliest occurrences of the term “Irish Republican Army” in the vast repositories of digitised and increasingly digital publications known as Google News and Google Books, so I thought I’d introduce you to another one of the online tools provided by the internet giant for would-be researchers. Using the Ngram Viewer one can now roughly chart the historical frequency of a word or term in any of the books, magazines or newspapers published over the last two centuries or so that have been archived by Google, rating its earliest appearances and popularity. This provides some fascinating insights as this Atlantic article points out. So above are two graphs, both encompassing a two century search period from 1800 to 2008, examining the use of the terms “Irish Republican Army”, “Fenian” and “Fenians”. There are some very interesting data spikes in there, though no doubt quite a few incorrect matches too (Fenian before the mid-19th century had a very different meaning to the later revolutionary association).
Have a go yourself!