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 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.
26. Historical Demography in the Netherlands
Historical Demography in the Netherlands
Theo ENGELEN and Ad VAN DER WOUDE†1
At the moment historical demography in the Netherlands is a well-established discipline with many practitioners, with a firm position in the teaching of history departments and with an active and visible place in the international scholarly community. Still, studying populations in the past was, until the 1950s, not an institutionalized part of Dutch academia. In this contribution we will describe the prehistory and early stages of the discipline, we will present the highlights of research, and we will show the growth of the institutions necessary to support and promote researchers. And finally the paradigmatic and technical innovations of the last twenty years are presented, using the most important publications of this period.
The Early Years of Historical Demography
Although Dutch historical demography is a rather new branch on the scientific tree, its origin can be found already in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The movement for political arithmetic of those days resulted in the collection of historical as well as actual data in order to obtain a better knowledge of the geography, climate, population, living conditions and economic situation of many European countries. In a number of cases these efforts were entirely or almost entirely devoted to population issues. The year 1662 with the publication of John Graunt’s Natural and political observations upon the bills of mortality… of the city of London may be considered the year of birth...
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