A Pre-Colonial Population Brought to Light: Digitization of the Nineteenth Century Egyptian Censuses

Mohamed Saleh


Knowledge of pre-colonial Middle Eastern populations has been limited by the lack of data. The 1848 and 1868 Egyptian censuses provide two snapshots of the Egyptian population in its early attempts to make the transition into a modern society. These censuses are perhaps the earliest in the Middle East and among the earliest in any non-Western country to include individual-level information on all segments of the population, including females, children, and slaves, on a wide range of demographic and socioeconomic variables. This article describes the digitization of two nationally representative samples of the 1848 and 1868 censuses from the original manuscripts at the National Archives of Egypt. It then introduces an application of the samples in Egyptian economic history.


Published in

Historical Methods, vol. 46, n. 1, 2013, pp. 5–18