By Kathrin Levitan (auth.)
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Extra info for A Cultural History of the British Census: Envisioning the Multitude in the Nineteenth Century
28 The census of 1801 was the first attempt to systematically describe this population as a united whole. 29 It did not take long before the “people” recognized their role and stake in this process. Members of the government and the general public worked to change and expand the census over the course of the nineteenth century. During this conflicted and complicated process, the census was transformed from a somewhat obscure government project to a widely publicized and avidly watched national event that relied on the cooperation of every family.
Significantly, the founding of the RG and the 1841 census marked a general political transition in the control of the census. Both Charles Abbot, the original sponsor of the 1801 census, and John Rickman, who controlled the first four enumerations, were Tories. 99 Rickman was an anti-Malthusian and a close friend of the conservative romantic writer Robert Southey, with whom he collaborated on numerous Quarterly Review articles during the first decades of the nineteenth century. The statistical movement of the 1830s, in contrast, was dominated by Whigs who had largely accepted the Malthusian variety of political economy and supported free trade.
116 In the end, Graham suggested that the census ask about birthplace, the relation to the head of the family, and marital status. He also agreed that returns should be made of the blind, deaf, and dumb, as well as schools, hospitals, and workhouses. Separately, censuses of religion and education would be taken. 117 Even with these more limited additions, Graham warned that the census would require a great deal more labor and money than that of 1841, because of both the increase in information and the larger population.
A Cultural History of the British Census: Envisioning the Multitude in the Nineteenth Century by Kathrin Levitan (auth.)