By Kathrin Levitan (auth.)
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Additional resources for A Cultural History of the British Census: Envisioning the Multitude in the Nineteenth Century
Graham insisted that the differences between the 1831 and 1841 censuses were so great that it was inevitable that the latter would require more time and money than the former. ”103 Furthermore, the population had increased to such a degree that there was a great deal more information to abstract. 104 The commissioners insisted that “the mode in which the census was directed to be taken by Parliament is alone the cause of the length of time which is now made a matter of complaint” and “whatever advantage the system adopted on the present occasion may have in comprehensiveness, in minute details, in superior correctness .
19 The series of bad harvests had provoked concern about importing food during wartime, when the disruption of trade made it difficult. ”22 He thus wanted to determine the population of each county for militia recruitment purposes, as well as the number of seamen in the country. Despite the anxieties facing the British ruling classes, Rickman believed that ultimately the census would be a source of pride because it would show a large and increasing population. ”24 Patriotism thus called for the measure, and Rickman explained that it would direct the public intellect in an important new direction: “A specimen of the kind proposed, might tend to make political economy a more general study in England.
It was not until the 1840s, however, that information about the census consistently began to reach a wider public. When beginning with the 1841 census every “head of a household” was required to fill out a census form and interact directly with a government-appointed enumerator, a new relationship between the public and the census emerged. As both the government and the press repeatedly emphasized, the census could be a success only if every household in Great Britain was willing to cooperate.