By Kathrin Levitan (auth.)
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Extra resources for A Cultural History of the British Census: Envisioning the Multitude in the Nineteenth Century
Farr, a committed advocate of public health, believed that mortality and disease statistics would make it possible to quantify the causes of death for the society as a whole, and that a great many deaths could be prevented if hygiene and sanitation were improved. Furthermore, Farr believed that statistics could be used to serve his reformist political goals. John Eyler explains that Farr was keenly interested in the sciences . . that dealt with aggregates. He was convinced that quantitative approaches would both advance medicine and assist the process of social reform.
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. ”66 Despite their claims of neutrality, however, the statisticians were moralists as well, and they arrived on the scene just as the heated debate over the “condition of England” was taking off. ”67 The Journal of the Statistical Society of London declared in 1839 that when the system of registration shall have been perfected .
Instead of asking for the numbers of people involved in different trades, the new schedules asked for the numbers of families. 36 The concern indicates that the government was primarily interested in what the local economy was based on and the general strength of the wartime economy, not in what individual people did. It also depicts a family-based economy that was soon going to fall apart as industrialization picked up speed, and increasing numbers of both men and women left the home to work. Another question that had caused confusion on the first census regarded the numbers of empty and inhabited houses.
A Cultural History of the British Census: Envisioning the Multitude in the Nineteenth Century by Kathrin Levitan (auth.)