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A Global History of Historical Demography

Half a Century of Interdisciplinarity

Edited By 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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31. Historical Demographia in Russia

Extract

Historical Demography in Russia

Irina TROITSKAIA and Alexandre AVDEEV1

The primary aim of historical demography is to reconstruct long series of demographic indicators as far back in time as possible, and to apply demographic method to these data (Zhao 2008).

Is it possible to carry out historical-demographic studies in Russia which would fit this definition and with results comparable to those of the Western European countries? We believe it is, only the reconstructed time series concerning population size and vital events for Russia would be 100–150 years shorter than in most Western European countries, due to the origins and development of the Russian systems of population counts and vital registration.

Sources of Historical Demography in Russia

The famous Soviet demographer Boris Urlanis wrote in his book Population growth in Europe:

For the majority of Western European scholars, data on the population of Russia are a stumbling block. Many of them are convinced that the whole of Russia is a huge blank spot from the demographic point of view (Urlanis 1941, p. 179).

In fact, the history of vital registration and population censuses in Russia follows the European, although with a certain lag. The first “modern” population census was conducted in Russia in 1897, some fifty years later than in most European countries. Orthodox parish registers in Russia were introduced in 1722, whereas in parts of Europe such registers existed since the late 16th–mid 17th...

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