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A Global History of Historical Demography

Half a Century of Interdisciplinarity

Antoinette Fauve-Chamoux, Ioan Bolovan and Sølvi Sogner

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.

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6. Historical Demography in the Baltic States (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia)


Historical Demography in the Baltic States:Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia

Dalia LEINARTE, Andrejs PLAKANS and Toivo U. RAUN1

Even though Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are frequently referred to as a region – most commonly as the “Baltics” – the long-term histories of the three states and their titular populations are quite distinct. During the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, however, these histories did evidence remarkable similarities. Before the First World War all three peoples and their territories comprised the northern borderland provinces of the Russian Empire; in 1918, all three had declared independence and had formed national states. For all, independence lasted only for the twenty years between the world wars, and in 1940 the USSR had occupied the entire eastern littoral, transforming the three states into Soviet Socialist Republics. In August 1991, even before the USSR dissolved, the three countries reestablished their national sovereignty, later becoming members of the European Union.

During the pre-modern centuries – the classic terrain of western historical demography – information generated by Baltic-regional institutions about the area‘s populations was anything but standardized and clear-cut. To this day, archival sources for this earlier period continued to remain largely uncollated and underused for purposes of systematic population studies. Ecclesiastical records – Protestant Lutheran in the northern half of the littoral, Roman Catholic in the southern half – used a variety of languages and differing methodologies for tracking membership. The inclusion of the entire eastern Baltic littoral into the Russian Empire at the end of the eighteenth...

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