A Cultural History of the British Census: Envisioning the by K. Levitan

By K. Levitan

The British census performs an unquestioned position in governance this present day, and the hot digitization of 19th century census facts has allowed thousands of beginner researchers to imagine their nationwide and familial previous. This examine tells the tangled tale of ways the census took form over the early many years of its lifestyles, constructing from an easy counting of families in the course of the Napoleonic Wars right into a centralized venture that concerned the governmental and highbrow luminaries of Victorian Britain. alongside the way in which, the census intertwined with the urgent questions of the day, together with Malthusianism, industrialization, political illustration, Irish immigration, women’s employment, copy, and empire. The ebook explores the hotly disputed approach in which the census used to be created and constructed and examines how a large solid of characters, together with statisticians, novelists, nationwide and native officers, political and social reformers, and newshounds spoke back to and used the belief of a census. It indicates that the act of describing British society in statistical phrases used to be additionally an act of contestation.

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Additional resources for A Cultural History of the British Census: Envisioning the Multitude in the Nineteenth Century (Palgrave Studies in Cultural and Intellectual History)

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For McCulloch and many others who shared his liberal outlook, the census was both a symptom of and an impetus for progress. 49 And while the census was fascinating to educated people, “these investigations are not calculated merely to gratify a rational curiosity, but . . ”52 The statistical movement in Britain took off during the 1830s. The Statistical Society of London and its counterparts in the provinces, of which the most influential was the Manchester Statistical Society, were formed in the early years of the decade.

60 The statisticians of the 1830s assumed that legislators would be among the first to benefit from the data that they were collecting and organizing, but that they were not the only ones who would find them of interest. ”62 The surveys of the statistical societies focused on a few pressing issues such as education, the conditions of the urban poor, and crime. The societies also reported on foreign statistics and censuses. ”63 McCulloch, in fact, saw one of the prime benefits of the census to be its ability to answer controversial questions.

Finally, while the overseers conducting the earlier censuses had had several weeks or months during which they were permitted to collect their results and send the forms to London, this census was to be done on a single night. The latter procedure was continued in later censuses, and was a sign of the increasing geographic mobility that accompanied the extension of the railroad during the 1830s and 1840s. As a writer for the Westminster Review explained in 1854, “Our national portraiture must be taken by daguerreotype process, and not by gradual finishing.

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