Research Potential

The high quality and unique features of the 1871 enumerations make these data a rich source for the study of Canada, Scotland and their relationship.  The data will improve our understanding of long-term social and economic change and the ways in which 19th-century globalization brought together and transformed the two countries.

Three lines of research are of particular interest.  The first is an investigation of the economy, demography and social structure of each country at a critical point in its national evolution.  By 1871 both Canada and Scotland had been much affected by the powerful forces of nineteenth-century globalization.  The experiences and patterns visible in 1871 are interesting in themselves and as part of a longer-term trajectory derived from the longitudinal sequence of repeated census cross-sectional samples (both Canada and Britain undertook a census every ten years from 1851).

A second area of investigation is the Scottish influence on and relationship to Canada.  The contribution of Scottish immigrants to Canadian society is well-recognized at a popular level but scholarly understanding of the composition and extent of the Scottish diaspora is less advanced.  The new data will allow us to delineate and compare demographic and social structure in the two countries, identify more precisely the place of the Scots-born and Scots-descended in Canada, and to examine within the Scottish context the kinds of people and families who emigrated.

A third broad area of research builds on the linkage of individuals enumerated in 1871 to various complementary sources, the most important of which are the complete count 1881 census databases for Canada, Scotland, England and the US (1880).  The 1870s was a key decade for the experience of industrialization, fertility transition, migration and changing household composition in both Canada and Scotland.  Following the same people over this decade will reveal much about changes in residence, occupation and family structure during a period of dramatic economic and demographic change. The process of tracking individuals from one census to another requires record linkage methodology which is being developed in a series of workshops; the next meeting is in April of 2009.

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