The goal of the project is to compile a comprehensive collective biographical study in order to define, for the first time, the features of old Austrian parliamentarism, which has been badly neglected in research so far. For this purpose, the data of all members of the Austrian central parliaments between 1848 and 1918 will be evaluated in a historical cross-section to create a prosopography. Besides capturing parliamentary activity, emphasis will be on representing age and occupational structure, specialist competence, regional origin and political and social activity outside parliament, as well as on an explanation of the political framework (right to vote and changes to it; the internal structure of the parliament). Thus, for the first time, the project will present a study based on empirical data that will illuminate the features of the old Austrian parliament during its transformation from the middle of the nineteenth century until the end of the Habsburg Monarchy beyond common clichés regarding nationality, estate and class. Theses and intermediate results produced by the project will be regularly presented and debated in the framework of conferences on the history of parliamentarism and the Habsburg Monarchy.
In terms of sources, research is based on the double volume, 'Die österreichischen Zentralparlamente 1848–1918. Ein biographisches Lexikon' (Studien zur Geschichte der österreichisch-ungarischen Monarchie 33) published in 2014 and which includes all members of the constitutive Reichstag of 1848–49, as well as of both houses of the Imperial Council (Reichsrat) of 1861 until 1918. Apart from data concerning membership in parliament, the study includes – as far as possible – biographical data, family origin and religion, details on education and career paths, as well as other extra-parliamentary political and social activities undertaken before, during and after their parliamentary mandate by all 3,515 MPs. Following publication, this biographical collection will continue as a work in progress. Additions and corrections are therefore welcome as the database is regularly updated.