1837/8 general census

It was the first modern general census in the country’s history, conducted by Wallachian authorities in the first decade of the existence of official statistics. In 1831, under Russian occupation and supervision, a constitutional law was introduced, called The Organic Regulation. By virtue of this law (art. 151) a special bureau was created inside the Department of Interior: Section III, tasked with gathering information of various kind: on population, economy, roads, habitat, environment, etc.

It was this bureau that coordinated the census, but we lack direct information on its initiators and sources of inspiration. We only know the officials who directed the operations: Mihail Ghica, chief of the Department and brother of the ruling prince (Alexandru Dimitrie Ghica, 1834-1842) and Iordache Creţeanu (chief of Section III). Petrache Poenaru, a  cultural figure of the age, could have been one of those responsible in planning the census.

The administration called this census a statistic, a term that in the age referred to (besides the science of statistics) operations that gathered as much information as possible (or on a wider array of aspects as possible).

There were two types of circumscriptions, overlapping regular jurisdictions. First, there were urbans settlements with police offices. Each police chief had (poliţai or polţmaister) had to record his town or market-town, while in Bucharest (the capital) this responsibility fell on the police chiefs of town sectors. There were five comisars, each mandated with one of the five sectors. Second, in the countryside, each subprefect (subocârmuitor) was in turn ordered to record the sub-district (or county) that was under his authority. Wallachia was then divided into 18 districts (judeţe) and 96 sub-districts: 78 plăşi in the hills and plain, and 17 plaiuri, in the mountains. 17 of these 95 administrative units included towns or market-towns absent of police offices. These too fell under the respsonsibility of the subprefect.

The census was carried out in three major stages, using different types of forms, as follows:

1. On November 1st 1837 a general order was issued in the province to record the population in form type A.

2. In Bucharest, the order came on November 12, accompanied by two models of forms that were used only in the capital: type A for properties, and type B for the inhabitants;

3. During 1838 and 1839 several other forms were filled in the province: types B, C, D, E and F, regarding estates, roads, habitat, environment and settlements. This time orders were not given simultaneously to all districts, but according to the progress made in the first stage.

4. Lastly, in 1838, two additional lists were requested: one concerning mills, and one concerning agricultural production of the previous year.

For the time being this database only covers circumscriptions from the countryside, recorded in forms type A.


To forms type A.

Last update: May 17, 2021