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The Census Registers of Nineteenth-Century Egypt: A New Source for Social Historians

Kenneth M. Cuno and Michael J. Reimer
British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
Vol. 24, No. 2 (Nov., 1997), pp. 193-216
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/195772
Page Count: 24
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The Census Registers of Nineteenth-Century Egypt: A New Source for Social Historians
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Abstract

The census registers of nineteenth-century Egypt (1840s-1870s) are unknown to all but a relatively small number of researchers. Following what appear to have been preliminary enumerations in some urban areas and villages, the first countrywide census was carried out in 1848, and was not repeated until 1882. In between those years there were new enumerations in Cairo and Alexandria, as well as in numerous villages. In format and data collected, the Egyptian census registers appear to have been compiled in accordance with population counts undertaken at the same time in the central Ottoman Empire, though the former have the important advantage of including a count of women. These registers contain data on household composition, sex, age, religion, ethnicity, place of origin, marriage and polygamy, slavery, migration, economic activity, physical infirmities, and--in the towns--the type and fiscal status of dwellings. Although most of the sources for this period are biased toward representing the wealthier strata, the census registers offer an extraordinary view of all elements in society.

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