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Rethinking East-Central Europe: family systems and co-residence in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth

Volume 1: Contexts and analyses – Volume 2: Data quality assessments, documentation, and bibliography


Mikołaj Szołtysek

This book reconstructs fundamental aspects of family organization across historical Poland-Lithuania, one of the largest political entities in early modern Europe. Using a plethora of quantitative measurements and demographic microsimulation, the author captures and elucidates the complex patterns of leaving home and life-cycle service, marriage and household formation, along with domestic group structures and living arrangements among different subpopulations of Poland-Lithuania, highlighting a variety of ways in which these patterns were nested in their respective local and regional contexts. By showing that at the end of the 18 th century at least three distinct family systems existed in the Polish-Lithuanian territories, Szołtysek challenges a number of orthodoxies in the ‘master narratives’ on the European geography of family forms of F. Le Play, J. Hajnal, P. Laslett, and their followers. Volume two of the book contains an extensive bibliography along with a thorough archival documentation of the census-like microdata used in the book, and provides detailed information on their quality and further technicalities pertaining to data analysis.
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2. The CEURFAMFORM Database: its scope, content, and structure


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2.  The CEURFAMFORM Database: its scope, content, and structure

A proposed revision of the picture of family demography of historical East-Central Europe based on western methodology called for the use of research tools which would allow for in-depth quantitative analysis, as well as for making spatiotemporal comparisons. A sine qua non condition for the success of this endeavor was the creation of a vast foundation of sources based on listing materials from historic Polish lands, selected in accordance with strictly defined criteria and covering the widest possible territorial range.

Census-type listings of population came to the attention of Polish researchers at the turn of the 19th century (Kleczyński 1892; 1898; Korzon 1897; Bujak 1936). Accordingly, their importance for the understanding of historical, social, and demographic structures was recognized by historians and historical demographers both before and after World War II (Kleczyński 1894; Dobrowolski 1920; Bujak 1936; Rusiński 1953, 167; Kumor 1967; Gieysztorowa 1976, 123–144). However, during the 1960s-1970s – i.e., during the first boom in Polish historical demographic research – they were found to have survived in rare cases only, or the processing of any large body of household data was regarded as infeasible given the technical constraints of the time (Kumor 1967; Gieysztorowa 1979, 170–171; also Kopczyński 1998, 65–69). In describing the micro-censuses of the Civil-Military Order Commissions (used in this research; see below), Gieysztorowa, a doyen of Polish historical demography (Gieysztorowa 1976, 125), wrote of...

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