In ancient Egypt several people carrying two bags of stones each were going from house to house approximately in the 3rd century B.C. One of the bags contained black stones, the other bag – white ones. These people were doing a good job – they conducted the census of population and determined the number of people fit for military service. Many rulers since the ancient times dealt with population accounting, as they needed to find out the population size in order to know how many people they could call to arms, and how much money they could collect as taxes. In Russia, the census was carried out as well. For the first time, it was done in 1245 during the Tatar-Mongol yoke for the purpose of taxation. Peter the Great streamlined the process: in 1718 he issued a decree on population accounting due to transition to capitation tax. The census records that everyone knows about from the classic literature were a direct result of this revision of taxed population. In late 19th century, outstanding Russian scientist Petr Semenov-Tyanshansky suggested carrying out the first general census of population. 7 million rubles were not spent for nothing – this time the calculation was done properly without “dead souls.” Everybody knows at least one census clerk – Anton Chekhov was in charge of a group of tally men in Serpukhov district of Moscow province. They had a rough time, as the census program included 14 questions: relation to the owner of household and head of family; age; gender; marital status; social category; status or rank; place of birth; place of registration; place of residence; temporary accommodation if any; confession of faith; native language; literacy and education; occupation, profession, craft; position or service (with indication of main and secondary occupation, as well as status as regards the military service obligation); the note on physical defects. The answer that the last Russian emperor gave to the one of the questions of the census is widely known. In the line about occupation, Tsar Nikolay noted down: “Owner of the Russian Land.” The distinguished tally men were awarded with a special medal, while the census results were published in 89 volumes (119 books). Not to look through all of them, here is the summary: following the results of the census, the population size of the Russian Empire was registered as 125,640,021 citizens including 16,828,395 urban dwellers (13.4%). Two of the cities could boast of the population size of more than 1 million people, and one – with population of over 500,000 people. Saint Petersburg was the largest city of the empire at that time.
Information provided by the Scientific Russia News Agency. Media outlet’s registration certificate: IA No. FS77-62580 issued by the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media on July 31, 2015.
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