Data Resources Data Resources
3 Data Bases Created for the Studies in Historical Demography

3.1 The population of Quebec before 1800: Demography - History - Genealogy

The population database of Quebec has been created and developed due to the Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH) at Université de Montréal, for the semi-closed and homogeneous population of manageable size for which there is excellent documentation - the entire French-Canadian population who lived in the present territory of the Province of Quebec from its first permanent settlement in 1608 to the middle of the 19th century. So far the database covers the entire period of French rule, up to the year 1800.

Thanks to a grant from the Quebec’s Government Fonds de l’autoroute de l’information, the Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH) at Université de Montréal, in collaboration with Gaétan Morin Éditeur, is making available on the Internet genealogical information on Quebec of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This wealth of information, which has been gathered over thirty years, is organized into three sets:

1. A Repertory of Vital Events 1621-1799

2. A Genealogical Dictionary of Families 1621-1765

3. A Repertory of Marriages and Filial Relations 1621-1799

Individual and family biographies are constructed by linking individuals to their baptismal, marriage and burial certificates. Parental relations are based on identifying people in the marriage certificates. Linked in this essential way, the three sets available on the server are also linked directly by hyperlinks. Marriages in the Repertory of vital events are linked to the corresponding marriages in the Repertory of marriages and filial relations. Mentions of the principal individuals in certificates prior to 1766 are linked to their individual files in the Genealogical Dictionary. The dates and places of events – births, marriages, deaths – in the Dictionary are linked to the corresponding certificates. Families are linked to marriages, and marriages to certificates. Within the Dictionary, parents are linked to their children, their parents, and their spouses. In short, you can "navigate" from an ancestor to his or her descendants, from a descendant to his or her ancestors, from a husband to his wife (or wives) and vice versa, from an event date to a corresponding certificate in the documents, and many other combinations.

This database was used in many studies of fertility and mortality in historical population [22, 41, 46, 49, 50, 124] including the study of a trade-off between early fecundity and longevity [105].

3.2 Umeå Demographic Data Base

The Demographic Data Base began as a temporary employment project in 1973 under the auspices of the National Archives of Sweden. The aim was to computerize parish registers to make them available for research. The irreplaceable historical records in the Archives were in urgent need of protection from further wear and tear. Database operations have increased in both range and extent, and are established today in three places; Umeå, Haparanda and Jörn. Since 1978 the Demographic Data Base is a special unit at the Umeå University and employs in all about 70 people.

POPUM, the population database, is a major information system. It deals with about 365,000 persons, about whom there are 1,644,000 entries in the sources. POPUM is a relational database. The tables contain the information from the 19th century parish registers. Most of the variables are taken directly from the sources, e.g. name, sex, date of birth and marriage details. A number of new variables are created, e.g. details concerning migration, trade/profession, marital status and housing. What is unique about the Demographic Data Base is its individual-based parish register material with its wealth of detail and high quality. The material is so consistently high class that it allows for the creation of an integrated information system where various source materials can be linked together.

The parish registers contain numerous references to each individual, the number usually depending on how long the person was resident in the parish. By linking together the separate references to someone, an integrated information system can be built up. Essential details on birth, marriage, childbirth and death are recorded, as are migrations between households, villages, parishes and even to foreign countries. Details concerning occupation/trade and, where relevant, taxable property ownership can establish social status, mobility and grades for reading ability and comprehension were entered in the registers.

Through the parish registers it is also possible to establish interpersonal relationships. Family relationships (parents, spouse and children) provide extensive genealogical material, and even more indirect relationships can be established - grandparents, siblings and cousins, for instance. The information system facilitates the reconstruction of life-histories on the individual and the family level. There is thus every chance of being able to perform both longitudinal (e g course of life studies) and cross-sectional analyses.

The primary materials computerized by the Demographic Data Base consist of entries on individuals in 19th-century parish registers: a) Catechetical lists; b) Ministerial lists of births, marriages and deaths; c) Migration lists.

The Centre for Population Studies (CPS) was formed on July 1, 1990, as an integral part of the Demographic Data Base (DDB). Its main objective is to develop research on the material computerized by the DDB, and to stimulate national and international research on the DDB material, where possible within a multi-disciplinary context. The CPS will seek to promote research by disciplines, such as sociology, demography, statistics, epidemiology and human genetics. An international Advisory Board for the CPS has been appointed, whose main role is to contribute to the further development of the DDB as an important international research centre. The Board advises the DDB management on research matters and functions as an ambassador for the DDB, and its products.

The CPS research policy is to promote new research based on the DDB database and to focus resources on important research fields. It will also promote the creation of a number of visiting research positions and scholarships at the CPS in order to encourage a wider use of the DDB research material. The research policy will be submitted to relevant political bodies and research councils. It provides the framework for the formulation of new research projects.

The Center for Population Studies has the following research priorities:

1. The Individual and Family Life Cycle

2. Population Genetics and Genetic Epidemiology

3. Social and Spatial Mobility

The Umeå Demographic Database was used in several studies on historical demography including mortality and health studies [35, 111, 162].

3.3 BALSAC Population Register

BALSAC Population Register is maintained at the Interuniversity Institute for Population Research (IREP) organized by the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, McGill University, Université de Montréal and Université de Sherbrooke, Université Laval. Research activities of the Institute are concerned with the formation and evolution of Québec's regional populations (17th-20th centuries). Each of the three research programs deals with a specific dimension of population studies: physical and social reproduction (social sciences), biological characteristics (human genetics, epidemiology), and cultural dynamics (customs, rituals, regional identities). All of the projects call on the BALSAC population register. Developed from baptism, marriage, and death certificates, this register will eventually contain individual and family histories on virtually the entire population of Québec, from 1800 to the present. More information about BALSAC database could be found in the following publications: [28-32, 88, 140].

3.4 The Genealogical Database on Nine New England Families

These data come from nine published genealogies of New England families whose ancestors migrated from Old to New England before 1650, during The Great Migration. These genealogies follow persons of a particular surname whether they happened to live, and thus document the settlement of the American North from New England out to the Midwest, from 1650 to 1880 [96].

The records are most complete for men born several years before the books were published, making it possible for their deaths to be recorded in them. Therefore the researchers focus in what follows on the 3612 men descended in the male line born before 1840 (and who survived to age 20), 79% of whose records end in death. In all, 72% moved from their natal towns during their lifetimes.

The genealogies used in this study trace the families forward in time from the first person with the surname to come to America. These genealogies are also the product of family reconstitution, carried out both by professional genealogists and by family members wishing to trace their ancestry back to the founder who brought their surname to America. These reconstitutions differ from those done from parish records, because the compilers have followed the descendants wherever they happened to go.

The researchers also added information from the 1850 and 1860 censuses that was not in the genealogies to the data base [96].

3.5 The Union Army Project

A large family history sample related to the "Union Army Project on early indicators of later work levels, disease & death" was created on the basis of 23 American family histories [52-55, 143, 144]. The total sample comprises 49,419 individuals [143]. However, the majority of individuals were later eliminated from the data used for mortality analysis (probably because of data quality problems). Using this data set, Pope analyzed adult mortality in the United States in the 19th century and found that family histories appear to be quite representative of the related populations [143].

Data Resources Data Resources

logo70.gif (2450 bytes)

Data Resources for Biodemographic Studies on Familial Clustering of Human Longevity
Natalia S. Gavrilova, Ph.D.
Leonid A. Gavrilov, Ph.D.
© 1999 - 2000 Max-Planck-Gesellschaft ISSN 1435-9871