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On-line version ISSN 2309-8392
Print version ISSN 0018-229X


CHRISTOPHER, A.J.. The Union of South Africa censuses 1911-1960: an incomplete record. Historia [online]. 2011, vol.56, n.2, pp.01-18. ISSN 2309-8392.

ABSTRACT Censuses represent a major government enterprise to gather useful information on the population of the country to assist in the administration. The establishment of the Union of South Africa required the creation of a new integrated census system. Initially colonial precedents were followed, but distinctive features, most notably the racial bias in statistical collection and reporting, intruded. The two World Wars and the depression also negatively impacted upon the conduct of the censuses and the tabulation and publication of the results. Indeed, four of the ten Union censuses only described the White population in the country, while substantial sets of collected data were never tabulated and published. Moreover, after the first census in 1911, different questionnaires were supplied to various racial groups and most of the statistics tabulated for the majority of the population were relegated to brief separate reports or summary tables, following the White figures. The censuses therefore failed to gather and present comprehensive and comparable information upon the entire population, leading to significant gaps in the statistical record in the Union period.

Keywords : South Africa; Commonwealth; dominion; administration; delimitation; classification; tabulation; census; questionnaires; information; statistics; population; demography; identity; race; religion; nation; nationality; ages; occupations.

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