Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

that it had no statistical value until 1820, when the muster was taken after due preparation and with greater care, approximating to the system of a regular census. The first operation, however, called by the latter name, was the enumeration of 1828, when an act was passed providing for the enumeration of the whole population, the occupied area and the live-stock. The details of population included sex, children and adults respectively, religion and status, that is whether free (immigrants or liberated convicts), on ticket-of-leave, or under restraint. A similar inquiry was made in 1833 and again in 1836. In 1841 a separate census was taken of New Zealand and Tasmania respectively. The scope of the inquiry in New South Wales was somewhat extended and made to include occupations other than agriculture and stock-breeding. Five years later, the increase of the population justified the further addition of particulars regarding birthplace and education. The record of status, too, was made optional, and in 1856 was omitted from the schedule. In that year, moreover, Victoria, which had become a separate colony, took its own census. South Australia, too, was enumerated in 1846, ten years after its foundation as a colony. From 1861 the census has been taken decennially by all the states except Queensland, where, as in New Zealand, it has been quinquennial since 1875 and 1881 respectively. Up to and including the census of 1901 each state conducted separately its own inquiries. The scheme of enumeration is based on that of Great Britain, modified to suit the conditions of a thin and widely scattered population. The schedules are distributed by enumerators acting under district supervisors; but it is found impossible to collect the whole number in a single day, nor does the mobility of the population in the rural tracts make such expedition necessary. In more than one state the police are employed as enumerators, but elsewhere, a staff has to be specially recruited for the purpose. The operations were improved and facilitated by means of an interstatal conference held before the census of 1891, at which a standard schedule was adopted and a series of general tables agreed upon, to be supplemented in greater detail according to the requirements of each state. The standard schedule, in addition to the leading facts of sex, age, civil condition, birthplace, occupation and house-room, includes education and sickness as well as infirmities, and leaves the return of religious denomination optional with the householder. Under the head of occupation, the bread-winner is distinguished from his dependants and is returned as employer, employed, or working on his own account, as is now the usual practice in census-taking. Each state issues its own report, in which the returns are worked up in the detail required for both local administrative purposes, and for comparison with the corresponding returns for the neighbouring territory. The reports for New South Wales and Victoria are especially valuable in their statistical aspect from the analysis they contain of the vital conditions of a comparatively young community under modern conditions of progress.

South Africa.—Almost from the date of their taking possession of the Cape of Good Hope and its vicinity, the Netherlands East Indian Company instituted annual returns of population, live-stock and agricultural produce. The results from 1687 for nearly a century were recorded, but do not appear to have been more accurate than those subsequently obtained on the same method by the British government, by whom they were discontinued in 1856. The information was collected by district officials, unguided by any general instructions as to form or procedure. The first synchronous census of the colony, as it was then constituted, took place in 1865, on a fairly comprehensive schedule. Ten years later the inquiry was extended to religion and civil condition, and for the census of 1891, again, a rather more elaborate schedule was used. The next census was deferred till 1904, in consequence of the disorganization produced by the Boer war. The inquiry was on the same lines as its predecessors, with a little more detail as to industries and religious denomination. Speaking generally, the administration of the operations is conducted upon the Australian plan, with special attention to allaying the distrust of the native and more ignorant classes, for which purpose the influence of the clergy was enlisted. In some tracts it was found advisable to substitute a less elaborate schedule for that generally prescribed. In Natal, indeed, where the first independent census was taken in 1891, the Kaffir population was not on that occasion enumerated at all. In 1904, however, they were counted on a very simple schedule, by sex and by large age-groups up to 40 years old, with a return of birthplace, in a form affording a fair indication of race. Natives of India, an element of considerable extent and importance in this colony, are enumerated apart from the white population, but in full detail, recognizing the remarkable difference between the European and the Oriental in the matter of age distribution and civil condition. The Transvaal and the Orange River colonies were enumerated in 1904. In the latter, a census had been taken in 1890, in considerable detail, but that of the Transvaal, in 1896, seems to have been far from complete or accurate even in regard to the white population. In Southern Rhodesia the white residents were enumerated in 1891, but it was not until 1904 that the whole population was included in the census. The difficulty in all these cases is that of procuring a sufficient quantity of efficient agency, especially where a large and illiterate native population has to be taken into account. For this reason, amongst others, no census had been taken up to 1906 of Northern Rhodesia, the British possessions and protectorates of eastern Africa, or, again, of Nigeria and the protectorates attached to the West African colonies of Gambia, Sierra Leone and Lagos.

The West Indies.—Each of the small administrative groups here included takes its census independently of the rest, though since 1871 all take it about the date fixed for that of the United Kingdom. The information required differs in each group, but the schedule is, as a rule, of a simple character, and the results of the inquiry are usually set forth with comparatively little comment or analysis. In some of the groups distinctions of colour are returned in general terms; in others, not at all. On the other hand, considerable detail is included regarding the indentured labourers recruited from India, and those of this class who are permanently settled on the land in Guiana and Trinidad. No census was taken in the former, or in Jamaica and Barbados, in 1901.

Ceylon.—Here the census is taken decennially, on the same date as in India, in consideration of the constant stream of migration between the two countries. The schedule is much the same as in India with the substitution of race for caste. Until 1901, however, it was not filled in by the enumerator, as in India, but was distributed before and collected after the appointed date as in Great Britain.

India.—The population of India is the largest aggregate yet brought within the scope of a synchronous and uniform enumeration. It amounts to three-fourths of that of the British Empire, and but little less than a fifth of the estimated population of the world. Between 1853 and 1881 each province conducted its own census operations independently, with little or no attempt at uniformity in date, schedule or tabulation. In the latter year the operations were placed for the first time under central administration, and the like procedure was adopted in 1891 and 1901, with such modification of detail as was suggested by the experience of the preceding census. On each occasion new areas had to be brought within the sphere of enumeration, whilst the necessity for the use in the wilder tracts of a schedule simpler in its demands than the standard, grew less as the country got more accustomed to the inquiry, and the efficiency of the administrative agency increased. Not more than 5% of the householders in India can read and write, and the proportion capable of fully understanding the schedule and of making the entries in it correctly is still lower. From the literate minority, therefore, agency has to be drawn in sufficient strength to take down every particle of the information dictated by the heads of families. As it would be impossible for an enumerator to get through this task in the course of the census night for more than a comparatively small number of houses, the operation is divided into two processes. First a preliminary record is made a short time before the night in question, of the persons ordinarily residing in each house.