Getting to Know Peasants: Local Population Records and Rural Society in Nineteenth-Century France

Authors

  • Harvey Smith

Abstract

Inconsistent terminology and under-reporting of agricultural occupations in the French manuscript census schedules from the nineteenth century has proved to be a serious problem for historians. Drawing on the literature that discusses these matters, this article presents evidence from a sample commune to propose a solution: creating linked population files to construct a set oflongitudinal analytical class groups into which specific occupations can be assigned in a variable way, depending on standard criteria, from one census to the next. Several tests of social data from local records using the analytical classifications are presented to demonstrate their usefulness for social history.

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Published

01.11.1995

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Section

Articles