A Global History of Historical Demography

Half a Century of Interdisciplinarity

by Antoinette Fauve-Chamoux (Volume editor) Ioan Bolovan (Volume editor) Sølvi Sogner (Volume editor)
©2016 Edited Collection XIV, 684 Pages


At the XXIst World Congress of the International Committee of Historical Sciences (ICHS/CISH) in 2010 in Amsterdam, the International Commission for Historical Demography (ICHD) decided to write an overview of its own history. Fifty years had gone by since the CISH XIst World Congress in Stockholm 1960, when historians took the first tentative initiatives to create a wholly new interdisciplinary commission for historical demography, a meeting place for a budding discipline where researchers in letters and science could meet, exchange ideas, cultivate and develop a new field. This book is the outcome of that decision.
Demography, past, present and future is a common concern for all inhabitants of this planet. The variation is great, however, with regard to sources, social and political conditions, state of the art, technological development, national and local initiatives. In the course of half a century many changes take place. Keeping abreast of the gigantic streams of information and innovation in the field is demanding, even more so for a discipline with global dimensions and ambitions. The book makes fascinating reading, and preparing it has been a rewarding and thought provoking experience. The thirty-seven articles in the book represent as many different stories.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the Editors
  • About the Book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Foreword
  • International Editorial Board
  • Acknowledgements
  • List of Figures and Tables
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Contributors
  • Introduction A Global History of Historical Demography. Time for an Anthology
  • 1. Historical Demography and International Network Developments (1928–2010)
  • 2. Historical Demography on Sub-Saharan Africa (1975−2010)
  • 3. Historical Demography in Argentina
  • 4. Sources for an Australian Interdisciplinary Historical Demography
  • 5. A Short History of Historical Demography in Austria. From a Population Issue to Special Scientific Discipline
  • 6. Historical Demography in the Baltic States (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia)
  • 7. A History of Historical Demography in Belgium
  • 8. Historical Demography in Canada
  • 9. The Development of Chinese Historical Demography since 1950
  • 10. Historical Demography in the Czech Republic
  • 11. Historical Demography in Denmark
  • 12. A History of the Historical Demography of England and Wales
  • 13. Historical Demography in Finland 1960−2010
  • 14. The French School of Historical Demography (1950−2000): Strengths and Weaknesses
  • 15. Historical Demography in Germany
  • 16. Historical Demography of Greek Populations
  • 17. Historical Demography in Hungary: A History of Research
  • 18. Historical Demography in Iceland, 1970–2011
  • 19. Indian Historical Demography
  • 20. History of Historical Demography in Ireland
  • 21. A History of Historical Demography in Italy
  • 22. Historical Demography in Japan: Achievements and Problems
  • 23. Family Demography in Traditional Chosŏn Korea: Survival Strategies of Families
  • 24. Historical Demography in Latin America: An Assessment
  • 25. Mexican Historical Demography
  • 26. Historical Demography in the Netherlands
  • 27. Historical Demography in Norway 1960−2010
  • 28. Polish Historical Demography. Past, Present, Future
  • 29. Historical Demography in Portugal (1950−2012)
  • 30. Half a Century of Historical Demography in Romania (1960−2010)
  • 31. Historical Demographia in Russia
  • 32. Population History in Scotland: Opportunities Under-explored
  • 33. Historical Demography in Slovakia in the Last Fifty Years
  • 34. Historical Demography in Spain (1960−2011)
  • 35. Historical Demography in Sweden and its International Visibility
  • 36. From Statistics and Political Economy to Historical Demography.
  • 37. Historical Demography in United States
  • Index

List of Contributors

AMORIM, Maria Norberta, University of Oporto (Portugal)

ANDERSON, Michael, University of Edinburgh (United Kingdom)

AVDEEV, Alexandre, University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (France)

BOLOVAN, Ioan, Romanian Academy & Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca (Romania)

†CORDELL, Dennis D., Southern Methodist University, Dallas (USA)

CRAIG, Béatrice, University of Ottawa (Canada)

DEVOS, Isabelle, Ghent University (Belgium)

ENGELEN, Theo, Radboud University Nijmegen (The Netherlands)

EXNER, Gudrun, Ludwig-Boltzmann-Institute for Historical Social Science Vienna (Austria)

FARAGÓ, Tamás, Corvinus University of Budapest (Hungary)

FAUVE-CHAMOUX, Antoinette, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris (France) & University of the Western Cape (Republic of South Africa)

FIALOVA, Ludmila, Charles University, Prague (Czech Republic)

GARDARSDOTTIR, Olof, University of Iceland, Reykjavík (Iceland)

GEHRMANN, Rolf, Berlin & Europa University Viadrina (Germany)

GOLIAN, Ján, Slovak National Library, Martin (Slovak Republic)

GOPINATH, Ravindran, Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi (India)

GRAJALES PORRAS, Agustin, Autonomous University of Puebla (Mexico)

HACKER, J. David, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis (USA)

HAYAMI, Akira, Keio University, Tokyo (Japan)

HEAD-KÖNIG, Anne-Lise, University of Geneva (Switzerland)

HIONIDOU, Violetta, Newcastle University (United Kingdom)

JOHANSEN, Hans Christian, University of Southern Denmark, Odense (Denmark)

KENNEDY, Christopher M., Francis Marion University (USA)

KIM, Kuentae, Seoul National University (Korea)

KIPPEN, Rebecca, University of Monash (Australia)

KITSON, Peter, University of Cambridge (United Kingdom)

KUKLO, Cezary, University of Białystok (Poland)

LEINARTE, Dalia, Vilnius University (Lithuania)

LUCAS, David, Australian National University, Canberra (Australia)

MARCILIO, Maria Luiza, University of São Paulo (Brazil)

MATOS, Paulo Teodoro de, University NOVA de Lisboa & University of the Azores (Portugal)

MATTHYS, Christa, Ghent University (Belgium) ← XIII | XIV →

MAUR, Eduard, University of Pardubice & Charles University (Czech Republic)

MERCHANT, Emily R., Dartmouth College, Hanover (USA)

MORING, Beatrice, University of Cambridge (United Kingdom)

OMOLUABI, Elizabeth, University of the Western Cape (Republic of South Africa)

OTERO, Hernán, Universidad Nacional del Centro, Tandil (Argentina)

PLAKANS, Andrejs, Iowa State University (USA)

POZZI, Lucia, University of Sassari (Italy)

RAUN, Toivo U., Indiana University, Bloomington (USA)

REY CASTELAO, Ofelia, University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain)

SEGUY, Isabelle, INED and University of Nice Sophia Antipolis (France)

STIEGLER, Nancy, University of the Western Cape (Republic of South Africa)

SOGNER, Sølvi, University of Oslo (Norway)

†SONNINO, Eugenio, University La Sapienza, Rome (Italy)

TEDEBRAND, Lars-Göran, Umeå University (Sweden)

TEIBENBACHER, Peter, Karl-Franzens-University, Graz (Austria)

TIŠLIAR, Pavol, Comenius University in Bratislava (Slovak Republic)

TROITSKAIA, Irina, Moscow State University (Russia)

†VAN DER WOUDE, Ad, Wageningen University (The Netherlands)

ZHAO, Zhongwei, Australian National University, Canberra (Australia) ← XIV | 1 →


A Global History of Historical Demography.
Time for an Anthology

Antoinette FAUVE-CHAMOUX, Ioan BOLOVAN and Sølvi SOGNER1

History deals with humankind in the past, in all its multiple facets. Demography deals with humankind as well, but with a stricter focus on the lifespan – being born, bearing children, moving around, dying – activities that people have in common no matter their living conditions or political systems. History and demography share an interest in people, and over the last fifty years or so, a subdiscipline has developed: historical demography. It was not called demographic history, however, not even by historians who work the field and use this approach to the past. What is in a name? Is historical demography a misnomer? The term may not be ideal. But it does have a historical explanation.2 ← 1 | 2 →

CISH Stockholm 1960 Congress

In 1960 The International Committee of Historical Sciences/ Comité International des Sciences Historiques (ICHS/CISH) held its XIth world congress in Stockholm, Sweden. The French demographer Louis Henry had been invited to present to historians worldwide his later-to-be renowned family reconstitution method which he had developed in cooperation with a historian, Michel Fleury (Fleury and Henry 1956). At the time, one exemplary case of a reconstituted parish existed: Crulai, a village in Normandy, France (Gautier and Henry 1958a; 1958b).3 On Saturday 27 August 1960, in front of a large audience, in one of the sessions dedicated to historical methods, Louis Henry presented a report in French entitled “Développements récents de l’étude de la démographie du passé” [Recent development of the study of demography of the past]. It was a plenary session, “section I, Méthodes et problèmes généraux [Methods and general questions] and Henry’s report was followed by four papers and a debate.4 Discussions on each intervention were published in the Proceedings (Comité International des Sciences Historiques 1962, pp. 70–73)

Henry’s project had been to describe and analyse what he called natural fertility, defined as uncontrolled fertility (Henry 1958; 1961): how many children are born in a marriage where birth control is not applied? In France birth control was traceable at least as far back as the 1789 Revolution. Available statistical data, therefore, did not supply the answer. Reliable information could only be attained through information about marriages, baptisms and burials as registered in the old parish registers. However, this information had been collected for religious and administrative purposes. It was, therefore, necessary to convert these data into demographic events: the start of the conjugal life, the intervals between births, the duration of conjugal union. A family thus reconstituted offered information of potential interest to historians, far beyond what could be deducted about natural fertility alone. The precision of the findings compensated for the costs in terms of time and energy of the laborious reconstitution.

The new method brought the study of past fertility up to modern scholarly standards. It demonstrated that modern scientific methods might be used successfully in the field of humanities, and at different levels. The research perspectives were tantalizing. Historians had acquired a new instrument in their toolkit. Henry called his new field of interest “la démographie du passé” or, better, “démographie historique”,5 and the name stuck. Louis Henry gave an interesting ← 2 | 3 → definition in his 1967 Manuel de démographie historique, a book resulting from his teaching of historical demography, beginning Fall 1964, at Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (IVe section), in Paris.

A new discipline, historical demography, was then put firmly in place, with the ambition, well expressed here by Louis Henry, of making it global. This was how an International Commission of Historical Demography (ICHD) was born de facto within the International Committee of Historical Sciences, by a collective and enthusiastic decision.7

Liège 1963 Mortality Conference

To further the development of this new historical demography approach, an organizational network was indispensable. In Stockholm historians from fourteen countries with an interest in populations of the past had signed up on the spot, after Louis Henry’s lecture, in order to be kept posted about further actions in the field.8

Professor Paul Harsin of the University of Liège, Belgium, who was an active member of the Board of the International Committee of Historical Sciences/ Comité International des Sciences Historiques (ICHS/CISH) was responsible for promoting the Henry session in Stockholm;9 he arranged an international meeting in Liège as a follow-up. Representatives from seventeen countries met (Harsin and Hélin 1965). In commemoration of this important meeting in Liège ← 3 | 4 → each participant received a copper medal from the University of Liège, personal name engraved, as a founding member. At the following ICHS/CISH congress, in Vienna 1965, Harsin became President of the very important CISH institution for the period 1965–1970, earlier than planned.10 David Eversley was then officially elected as President of the now formally established International Commission for Historical Demography – Commission Internationale de Démographie Historique (ICHD/CIDH), at the XIIth CISH Vienna Congress 1965. Since then, the commission, recognized as an internal body of CISH (up to 2000, when it transformed itself into an independent association, affiliated to ICHS/CISH), has regularly organized sessions in historical demography at the quinquennial ICHS/CISH congresses.11

These regular world congresses of the International Committee of Historical Sciences provided perfect occasions for large comparative historical panels and debates cast in a global perspective. At San Francisco, in 1975, at the XIVth International Congress of Historical Sciences, when Paul Harsin was still a member of the CISH Board, this time as a “Counsellor member” (American Historical Association, 1976, p. 233), the first time the CISH was meeting outside the European continent, the twin ICHD sessions were entitled “The Contribution of Historical Demography to General History” (American Historical Association 1976, pp. 3941).

As for the relationship between history and demography, Louis Henry made it clear: demography was to be at the service of history (Henry 1973). And, as he had written earlier in 1950, this was a tool for better planning the future:

“You may, no doubt, find it odd that to answer the two questions forming the core of our subject – “Where are we?” and ‘Where are we headed?’ – We begin by answering a third: “Where were we yesterday and the day before?”. This reference to the past is, however, essential, for it alone can tell us about the day after.” (Henry’s lecture of 20 March 1950, Henry’s papers, art.11).12

After Louis Henry had established his leadership of historical demography as a discipline, cooperation went on between historians and demographers and an atmosphere of interdisciplinarity over the next five decades.13

At the ICHS/CISH world congress in Amsterdam 2010 (XXIst International Congress of Historical Sciences), the International Commission for Historical Demography decided to produce an overview of past activities in the field over ← 4 | 5 → the last fifty years, “a history of historical demography”. Given the responsibility for the undertaking were the vice-president of the Commission, Professor Ioan Bolovan, Babeş-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca, Romania, the secretary general of the Commission through twenty-five years (1985–2010), Professor Antoinette Fauve-Chamoux, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, France, and Professor emerita Sølvi Sogner, University of Oslo, Norway, president of the Commission 1985–1990.

Thanks to contributors from about forty countries from around the world, we are proud and happy to present A Global History of Historical Demography. It is a unique collective work, five years in the making, and produced through the united effort of researchers who identify themselves as “historical demographers”.

What’s in a Name – Historical Demography or Population Studies?

It was not as if historians had not taken an interest in population questions before 1960. The new concept of historical demography, however, was in one sense more narrow than the traditionally more general and frequently used population studies.14 It focused rigorously on demographic methodology, with family reconstitution as the ground-breaking new tool. It brought the family and household level into research focus, enriching our understanding of past population history with a previously unattained precision. It even made general population studies resemble the poor cousin, only providing tentative answers to central questions. On the other hand, historical demography also had its limits, dependent as it was on the quality of the sources, and with its narrow limitation to a parish. Combining the two approaches, therefore, has become the rule, and has offered deeper insights in social history, economic history, family history, women’s history, children’s history, history of the elderly, etc. – a diversity of themes reaching far beyond “natural fertility”. We can today look back on half a century of activities when cooperation between demographers and historians has brought and is still bringing forth a vast scholarly output.

The historical demographical approach has also stimulated comparative research between countries from around the globe, as this volume exemplifies. It has attracted researchers from the humanities who might not otherwise have embarked upon a discipline so clearly founded in science. As we know, two separate cultures have existed, and still exist at universities. Under the umbrella of historical demography, in spite of obvious difficulties, the “twain” has tended to meet. ← 5 | 6 → Whereas history claims Herodotus in ancient Greece as its forefather, demography dates from the 1600s: it is usually attributed to John Graunt’s Natural and Political Observations Mentioned in a Following Index, and Made upon the Bills of Mortality, London, 1662. As university disciplines history as well as demography took important strides forward in the 1800s. Demography was taught as a subdiscipline of statistics – however, unassailable for students in the humanities –, a technical term attributed to the French statistician Achille Guillard (1855). Henry’s family reconstitution method thus proved a great inspiration for historians as it opened up for detailed and precise information about the demographic behavior of ordinary people in the past. Activities have flourished worldwide. The present volume bears witness to that.

There have been, of course, problems and setbacks over the past fifty years. Henry’s family reconstitution method was highly work-intensive. To study just one parish was demanding. It also raised the problem of representativity, a problem that to some extent might be solved by enlarging the number of parishes studied. Digitalization of the sources, come about from the 1970s onwards, helped reduce some of the workload, particularly when personal computers became available. Digitalization also warrants the possibility of re-using the sources in future research, an important concern in view of the time and effort consuming work of extracting the data in the archives. Initiatives have been taken ad hoc. Inspiration has evolved from Louis Henry’s manuals on how to make the old parish registers release their demographic secrets (Fleury and Henry 1956, 1965; Henry 1967). Parish registers, however, are not the only sources applicable; other sources as well have been applied for the same purpose, in Europe and elsewhere. Interest in population has called for a wide variety of approaches.

The Importance of International Cooperation

Historical demography is one specialty in competition with other specialties. Historical demographers, therefore, almost everywhere have been to a considerable extent isolated individuals, coping on their own, without the stimulus of a domestic scientific environment. Big populous countries have, of course, been more self-contained than smaller countries, but for everybody international contact has been extremely important at the personal level.

Transnational cooperation has been important not least for the professional advancement of the discipline. Most regularly – usually quinquennially – sessions have been organized by the big international scientific committees, offering arenas and meeting places. The ICHS/CISH in 1960 Stockholm introduced the new field, but others followed the lead: The International Economic History As ← 6 | 7 → sociation (IEHA),15 has organized ad hoc sessions on historical demographic issues at their world congresses.16 The same is true for the demographers’ own organization, the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP);17 since 1963, the IUSSP has continuously had a standing Committee on historical demography.18 This was undoubtedly an important factor stimulating the interest in historical demography worldwide (cf. below chapters on Sub-Saharan Africa,19 Japan, Latin America, Norway, among others).

Historical demography was well received as a newcomer at these big traditional international congresses. However, for CISH, they took place only every five years, had a top-heavy administration and were tradition-bound, and they could not provide ideal surroundings and stimulants. In large, populous countries like France, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States, centers for historical demography were established, making these countries academically self-sustaining and less reliant on international cooperation. In smaller countries, historians interested in academic specialties like historical demography were more dependent on international cooperation, and the inspiration from international conferences. For the steady development of historical demography as a young and self-contained field of research, the annual or biannual conferences of the American and European social science history conferences respectively, and their international networks cooperating under the term “Family and Demography” have proved of singular importance, and are treated here as a special case.20

“People Are the Only Wealth”

A 16th century French thinker Jean Bodin, who is traditionally classified as an early populationist and mercantilist, anticipated anti-Malthusian debates: “We must never fear that here is too many people, too many citizens given that men are the only wealth or power” (Bodin 1576, livre 5, chap. 2).21 Traditionally, ← 7 | 8 → historians dealt primarily with political history, with state and nation building, and a focus on King and Council. But from the French Revolution onwards, the People asserted itself steadily more, and we witness a democratic transition bringing political and socio-economic changes in the western world. Concomitantly, a demographic change took place, from high mortality and high fertility to a world with lower mortality and also lower fertility. In the twentieth century, between the two great World Wars demographers took stock of this fundamental change in Western society, and labelled it the Demographic Transition (Notestein 1945).

This was a new situation, and it raised political questions. It underlined a split between “developed” and “less developed” countries. It put demography and demographers at center-stage. Historians as well as demographers awoke to the challenge of having to describe and explain what had been going on demographically since the nineteenth century. In 1960, when the demographer Louis Henry lectured to the historians in Stockholm, there were 3 billion people in the world – three times as many as c. 1800 – and the world’s population was growing at a peak rate of annually 2.2 percent. The prospect of a continued growth to 5 billion raised considerable concern. This is the background for viewing historians’ rising interest in demographic issues in the 1960’s, as well as demographers’ interest in the past. Today, fifty years later, the world’s population has reached 7 billion, but the growth rate is halved, and the situation seems better under control (PopNet 2012/2013; World Population Clock 2014).

Becoming an Historical Demographer in 1960

Sølvi Sogner’s personal memories of meeting the new discipline in the early 1960s may give some indications of how the field of historical demography appeared to a young historian some fifty years ago:22

“Fresh out of university in 1956, I worked as a research assistant at the Norwegian Institute of Local History in Oslo, a new agency under the Norwegian Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs, established 1955 to give advice to local historians. I was struck and awed by the enormous work being performed by local historians – tracing the history of farms and farmers as far back in time as sources allowed, reconstructing all families ever having lived in the parish since parish registers were introduced in the late 17th century. These thousands of family histories allowed descendants to trace their lineage, but to outsiders the whole undertaking seemed utterly pointless. Could this information yield something of more general interest, I wondered? ← 8 | 9 →

The ICHS World Congress in Stockholm 1960 brought “big history” to our doorstep. Pre-congress “teaser”-papers arrived. Louis Henry’s paper was a revelation, and to me the Henry-session stood out as sensational! After the lecture people were encouraged to sign up if interested. Of course I did! My institute bought Henry’s Crulai-book (Gautier and Henry 1958a, 1958b). As I was supposed to have a part time research project of my own, I went for it, hook, line and sinker. In my thesis, Henry’s family reconstitution method seemed to me to be an inestimable supplement combined with a more traditional approach (Sogner 1979).

The Scandinavian countries’ small, homogenous Lutheran populations seemed an interesting testing ground for demographic research. From the 1730s onwards, summary annual reports of baptisms, marriages and burials had been collected. An important article on Scandinavia by the Danish demographer Halvor Gille, in the newly established demographic journal Population Studies 1949–1950, showed the main trends of the demographic development (Gille 19491950).

The most urgent thing to do was to learn some demography. In the academic year 1961/1962, on leave from my institute and with a scholarship from the British Council, I followed lectures by demographers David Glass and John Hajnal at the London School of Economics, and at Birmingham University with historian David Eversley.23 The Cambridge group,24 officially established only in 1964, had not yet become the anglophone Mecca of historical demography,25 and according to the British Council there was no single person combining the two fields. I therefore commuted between the two, living in London and staying over with the Eversleys when in Birmingham. Glass was a busy super-professor, aloof, with crowds of students in huge auditoriums – I cannot remember even talking to him. Hajnal and Eversley – both pre-war teenage immigrants to Britain from the continent – were both approachable, but quite different personalities. Neither is around anymore; I found their obituaries on the internet.26

Eversley had been recommended to me as a demographically interested historian by a student of Professor Glass’s, Michael Drake, who had followed in Malthus’s tracks to Norway and done his thesis on Norwegian data, using the above mentioned ecclesiastical reports (Drake 1969).27 Kind, energetic and garrulous, Eversley practiced learning by doing, and made me write an article for Population Studies based on parish registers from 17 parishes in Shropshire (Sogner 1963). His little daughter helping us out with the counting, while his wife prepared dinner. English cooking was unfairly underrated, she claimed, and right she was – the secret is l-o-n-g time in the oven. John Hajnal, on the other hand, was quite the opposite – kind, shy, soft-spoken. He wanted me to write an article about the Norwegian male enumerations of the 1660s for Population Studies. But even though British Museum’s Library had an astonishing collection of highly specialized and rare Norwegian scholarly books, they did not have the genuine stuff, the archival sources. So even though it was a treat sitting there – maybe in a chair where once upon a time Karl Marx might have been brooding – I never wrote that article. But I had the pleasure, years later, of inviting Hajnal to the international ← 9 | 10 → seminar hosted in 1979 in Kristiansand, Norway, on “Nuptiality and Fertility: Plural Marriage and Illegitimate Fertility” (Dupâquier et al. 1981), organized together by the two international commissions of historical demography, belonging respectively to the International Committee of Historical Sciences (ICHS/CISH) and to the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP), for by then much had happened in the way of international organization of historical demographical research. At a later occasion, Hajnal told me that the seminar in Kristiansand had triggered his later so famous article on pre-industrial household formation systems, and I would like to believe that (Hajnal 1983).”

Historical Demography has lived through Three “Revolutions” since 1960

The digital revolution entered academia in the 1970s. From a turbulent and upsetting start, digitalization became an indispensable tool and a door opener for research possibilities previously unthinkable. The language revolution has likewise been highly influential. English has increasingly become the medium for intellectual exchange between academics. For many years it was necessary to provide professional interpreters at international conferences. It was costly, cumbersome and inconvenient, and did not stimulate a fertile exchange of ideas. The gender revolutionaries from the 1970s onwards have had other axes to grind and battles to fight, and hence paid less attention to the kingpin role of women in historical demography.

A Global History of Historical Demography: an Anthology

Since the 1960s, much has happened. Historical demography has matured. This book, A Global History of Historical Demography presents half a century of historical demographic research in some forty countries from around the world. It relates the personal experiences of active researchers. Some have more activities to tell about than others, but everybody has a story to tell. Activities in the field of Historical Demography may be recent or of long-standing, social conditions differ, so does the source material, and the personal experiences. Political conditions have had also an important impact on the development. Therefore a presentation of each chapter is not proposed in the present introduction but an abstract in English and a résumé in French were placed at the end of each contribution. Finally, a general index provides a searching tool for this anthology that should be useful to students, teachers, researchers and also to non-academic readers around the world. ← 10 | 11 →

The editors want to express warm gratitude and appreciation to all contributors. It is an honor and a great satisfaction to be able to include so many countries, and so many different experiences. Some authors submitted their contributions early, which was highly appreciated. It served as a guarantee for the future success of the project, but also as a stimulant to try and expand the framework if possible. We are grateful to the many contributors who have joined us along the way, and we hope that the early birds, who have been waiting a long time for the publication, will feel compensated by getting a more comprehensive book than maybe they bargained for at the outset. The common effort and the extended time of preparation has made the book truly global. We believe that in some years’ time, when a second edition is in the making, its global aspect will be even more conspicuous.

Because of the great variation, no chapter is quite like any other. Each contribution is special, telling its own particular story. Since they are all centred on a common theme, the variations by themselves give valuable insight. In order to keep their originality, we decided to adopt an alphabetical order of countries or geographic sector concerned. This book is in no way exhaustive; it may be expanded. For the editors it has been exciting reading, and we are convinced all readers will feel the same. A global panorama is unfolding.

Henry’s family reconstitution method was developed on the basis of parish registers. Such registers are found in Christian societies and are not ubiquitous. However, other sources, found in other settings, may be equally usable, or maybe even more suited to uncover the demographic patterns and the underlying processes and driving forces. Prime examples in the book are non-Christian societies, like Japan, Korea and China. The cross-cultural aspect is important for our understanding of the human condition worldwide.

Half a Century of Interdisciplinarity

At the XXIst World Congress of the International Committee of Historical Sciences (ICHS/CISH) in 2010 in Amsterdam, the International Commission for Historical Demography (ICHD) decided to write an overview of its own history. Fifty years had gone by since the CISH XIth World Congress in Stockholm 1960, when historians took the first tentative initiatives to create a wholly new interdisciplinary commission for historical demography, a meeting place for a budding discipline where researchers in letters and science could meet, exchange ideas, cultivate and develop a new field. This book is the outcome of that decision.

Demography, past, present and future is a common concern for all inhabitants of this planet. The variation is great, however, with regard to sources, social ← 11 | 12 → and political conditions, state of the art, technological development, national and local initiatives. In the course of half a century many changes have taken place. Keeping abreast of the gigantic streams of information and innovation in the field is demanding, even more so for a discipline with global dimensions and ambitions. The book makes fascinating reading, and preparing it has been a rewarding and thought provoking experience.

The editors

Antoinette Fauve-Chamoux, Ioan Bolovan and Sølvi Sogner

Paris, Cluj-Napoca, Oslo, 2016.


AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION, 1976, Proceedings XIV International Congress of the Historical Sciences, New York, Arno Press.

BODIN, Jean, 1576, Les six livres de la République, Paris, Jacques Du Puys.

BOURDON, Jean, 1933, “Les méthodes de la démographie historique”, Bulletin of the VIIth International Congress of Historical Sciences, 5, 3, Warsaw (July 1933), pp. 588–595.

COMITE INTERNATIONAL DES SCIENCES HISTORIQUES [CISH], 1962, XIe Congrès International des Sciences Historiques, Stockholm, 21–28 aout 1960, Actes du Congrès, Stockholm/Göteborg/Uppsala, Almqvist & Wiksell.

DRAKE Michael, 1969, Population and Society in Norway 1735–1865, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

DUPAQUIER, Jacques, HELIN, Etienne, LASLETT, Peter, LIVI BACCI, Maximo and SOGNER, Sølvi (eds), 1981, Marriage and remarriage in populations of the past. Proceedings of the International Colloquium on Historical Demography Nuptiality and fertility : plural marriage and illegitimate fertility, Kristiansand, Norway, 79th September 1979 ; organized by the International Committee of Historical Sciences and the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population, London, Academic Press.

FAUVE-CHAMOUX, Antoinette and SOGNER, Sølvi (eds), 1994, Socio-economic consequences of sex-ratios in historical perspective, 1500–1980, Milan, Universita Bocconi.

FLEURY, Michel and HENRY, Louis, 1956, Des registres paroissiaux à l’histoire de la population: manuel de dépouillement et d’exploitation de l’état civil ancien, Paris, INED/PUF.

–, 1965, Nouveau manuel de dépouillement de l’état civil ancien, Paris, INED.

GAUTIER, Etienne and HENRY, Louis, 1958a, La population de Crulai, paroisse normande. Etude historique, Paris, PUF.

GAUTIER, Etienne and HENRY, Louis, 1958b, “Crulai. Démographie d’une paroisse normande au XVIIe et au XVIIIe siècles. Présentation d'un cahier de l’INED”, Population, 13, 2, pp. 283–286.

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GRAUNT, John, 1662, Natural and Political Observations mentioned in a following index, and made upon the Bills of Mortality, with references to the Government, religion, trade, growth, ayre, diseases and the several changes of the said city (no place). ← 12 | 13 →

GUILLARD, Achille, 1855, Éléments de statistique humaine, ou démographie comparée, où sont exposés les principes de la science nouvelle et confrontés, d’après les documents les plus authentiques, l’état, les mouvements généraux et les progrès de la population dans les pays civilisés, Paris, Guillaumin et Cie.

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1       Antoinette Fauve-Chamoux, a social historian and historical demographer, is Professor emerita at Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, where she teaches History of the Family, EHESS, Centre de Recherches Historiques/CNRS, 190, avenue de France, 75013 Paris, France; e-mail: antoinette.fauve-chamoux@ehess.fr. She is also attached to University of the Western Cape, Statistics and Population Studies Department, Bellville, Republic of South Africa. She was closely involved in the global development of historical demography.

         Ioan Bolovan, historian and historical demographer, is Professor at the Department of History, Babeş-Bolyai University, 1 Mihail Kogălniceanu St., 400084, Cluj-Napoca, Romania; e-mail: bolovani@yahoo.com.

         He teaches courses on Modern Romanian History, and historical demography in global perspective. Since 2012, he acts as Vice-rector of his university. He is also deputy director of the Center for Transylvanian Studies, Romanian Academy, and President of the International Commission for Historical Demography (ICHD).

         Sølvi Sogner is Professor emerita of History, University of Oslo, Skøyen terrasse 30, 0276 Oslo, Norway; e-mail: solvi.sogner@iakh.uio.no.

         She was President of the International Commission for Historical Demography (ICHD), 1985–1990. She is a member of the Norwegian Academy of Letters and Science and member of Academia Europaea. She has published on mortality, fertility and migration.

2       We are very grateful to Andrejs Plakans for his precious comments on an earlier version of this paper.

3       The family reconstitution for Crulai concerned couples married in the village between 1674 and 1742. After the 1956 book, a revised Manuel de dépouillement was published (Fleury and Henry 1965) and more general instructions concerning the process of analyzing the data, with a volume entitled Manuel de démographie historique (Henry 1967; 2nd edition 1970).

4       On the participants to this meeting, see Fauve-Chamoux’s chapter in the present volume.

5       The expression “historical demography” is found previously in the academic literature, since a Commission de démographie historique comparée/Commission of comparative Historical Demography was represented and active at the CISH 6th International Congress in Oslo, 1928. It had been created officially within the CISH by its initiator, the Polish scholar Zofja Daszyńska Golińska (1866–1934). Her follower, Jean Bourdon, used also the term extensively (see for example, Bourdon 1933), as Roger Mols, in Belgium (1956). See below, the chapter on academic networks by Antoinette Fauve-Chamoux, in the present volume.

6       Translated by A. Fauve-Chamoux.

7       Since 2010, the ICHD is currently called International Commission for Historical Demography see Fauve-Chamoux’s chapter on historical demography networks in the present volume.

8       During the plenary session mentioned above, taking place on Saturday 27 August 1960 in Stockholm, in his comments, Paul Harsin (Liège, Belgique), in French, invited interested colleagues to establish “an International Commission for Historical Demography”. There had been previous attempts to do so (Comité International des Sciences Historiques 1962, p. 70). Sølvi Sogner was present and remembers the extraordinary impact of Henry’s talk on the international audience (Sogner 2010).

9       On the early times of Historical Demography, see the chapter by A. Fauve-Chamoux below.

10     The Austrian historian, Heinrich-Felix Schmid, who was running for president passed away.

11     www.historicaldemography.net

12     Original text in French cited by Rosental 2003a, p. 104 and translated into English (Rosental 2003b, p. 97). This text (place of presentation unknown) is part of Henry’s papers (from INED), Centre des Archives contemporaines, Fontainebleau, France (number 20010307).

13     For more on the early years of the discipline and on the French school, see the chapter on France by Isabelle Séguy, in the present volume. See also Antoinette Fauve-Chamoux’s chapter on academic international networks.

14     Cf. Population Studies, a Quarterly Journal of Demography, was published, beginning 1947, by the Population Investigation Committee, London.

15     http://www.ieha-wehc.org/.


XIV, 684
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2017 (October)
Historical Sciences Historical Demography Demography Interdisciplinarity
Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2016. XIV, 684 pp.

Biographical notes

Antoinette Fauve-Chamoux (Volume editor) Ioan Bolovan (Volume editor) Sølvi Sogner (Volume editor)

Antoinette Fauve-Chamoux, a social historian and historical demographer, is Professor emerita at Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Centre de Recher-ches Historiques/CNRS, Paris (France), where she teaches History of the Family. She is also attached to University of the Western Cape, Statistics and Population Studies Department, Bellville, Republic of South Africa. Ioan Bolovan, historian and historical demographer, is Professor at Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, where he teaches Modern Romanian History and Historical Demography in global perspective. He is together Deputy Director of the Centre for Population Studies, Deputy Director of the Center for Transylvanian Studies, Romanian Academy, and President of the International Commission for Historical Demography (ICHD). Since 2012 he acts as vice-rector of his university. Sølvi Sogner was President of the International Commission or Historical Demography (ICHD), 1985–1990. She is Professor emerita of history at the University of Oslo, Norway, and a member of the Norwegian Academy of Letters and Science and of the Academia Europaea.


Title: A Global History of Historical Demography
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