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"Volkszählung” ... "Volkszählungen” ... “Seelenregister” ... "Klassensteuerlisten” ... "Konsumentenverzeichnisse” ... "Historische Tabellen" ...  "Zollabrechnungsbevölkerung”...

In Prussia, the annual population statistics were combined with the poll tax registers in 1820. From 1822 onwards, the collection of the data was spaced out and only had to be done every three years, a rhythm that was later adopted by the German Customs Union. Until 1834, the tables asked for specific information for each village, including the number of buildings, the number of inhabitants by age (under age 14 years, from age 14 to 60, and over age 60) and by religion, the number of persons eligible for military service – and the number of cattle. The age groups became a bit more differentiated in 1837 (0-4, 5-6, 7-13, 14-15, 16-44, 45-59, over 60), but only the age groups of interest for military service became really detailed (age limits 20, 25, 32, and 39 for the male population; in 1858, the same categories were also applied to women, probably for reasons of symmetry). In 1858, the feature of nationality was added. We are far from having tables that would provide an age distribution that could be used to illustrate life expectancy, for example!

All these operations were based on counts in police or tax registers, and officials soon became doubtful about whether the data were complete (Dieterici 1844, 190). This was probably the main reason why census lists were introduced in 1840. These lists showed that underregistration had occurred in the previous enumerations, especially in eastern provinces. The problems concerning Berlin were not resolved until 1846. In 1840, the census lists were probably still extracted from existing registers of inhabitants (category 3a), but in 1843 a real counting operation was prescribed. In the following census years, this was controlled more strictly: in 1846 the use of inhabitant registers was formally forbidden, and counting from house to house (3c) was unambiguously prescribed (Engel 1861, 24ff.). In 1852 it was discovered that in Minden household heads still were called to assemble at the 12 local office to provide information (3b) and this procedure was admonished 12.

The desire to get more precise figures that led Prussian authorities to establish real censuses did not prevail everywhere in Germany. Generally, the impetus for change came from the outside, as local statisticians rarely had enough influence or were not sufficiently aware of possible improvements to push for change.

Saxony is, however, another positive example. Saxony was in a similar situation as Prussia. The “Konsumentenkonsignationen” had eventually led to an underregistration of about 10% of the population. As the Restoration period came to an end in 1830, a statistical association was founded, and the population statistics were reformed. For the census of 1832, house lists were prescribed, but obviously they were not compulsory. It was not until 20 years later that household lists were introduced, and thereafter became obligatory. Though there was a relatively long period of improvements, the main step had already been taken in 1832, earlier than in Prussia. Unfortunately, centralization of the statistical works in Dresden led to a centralization, and then to the destruction of all materials ...

The year 1871 marks the beginning of the series of censuses that take place first in four-year periods (1867, 1871, 1875) and then every five years, until this pattern was interrupted by war and crises. The member states of the Kaiserreich had to furnish information on certain variables to the Statistisches Reichsamt, but were free to collect more information. The sole
condition was that the census had to be conducted from house to house, and using household or individual sheets. The core variables in 1871 were:

24 That means that some temporarily absent persons were counted twice – a problem also found in the censuses of the Reich up to 1925.

- name (Name)
- position in the household (Stellung im Haushalt)
- sex (Geschlecht)
- place of birth (Geburtsort)
- year of birth (Geburtsjahr)
- marital status (Familienstand)
- religion (Religionsbekenntnis)
- profession (Beruf oder Erwerbszweig der über 14 Jahre alten Personen
(Haupt- und Nebenbeschäftigungen)
- national status (Staatsangehörigkeit)
- place of residence of temporary guests (Wohnort bei nicht zum Haushalt gehörenden Personen) ... -  Rolf Gehrmann,  German Census-Taking Before 1871, Max Planck, Institute for Demographic Research, Laboratory of Historical Demography, Working Paper, pp. 12-13, 15-16.