University of Erfurt

Gotha Research Centre of the University of Erfurt

Projekt von Adam Dunn M.A.

From words to numbers and maps. Transfers, networks and the transformations of statistical thinking in Britain, France and the German Lands, c. 1780-1840s

The aim of this project is to map the changes in the perception and use of statistics from around 1800. The project seeks to establish how the concept of statistics shifted from a descriptive series of statistical accounts, often related to travel, compiled by mainly amateur statisticians, to the more mathematically-driven, state-operated model of statistics prevalent in the nineteenth century, finally, leading to the introduction of statistical maps in the mid nineteenth century.

With this project I intend to fill an important gap in our understanding of statistical entanglements around 1800, in two important ways: chronologically and spatially. First, the connection between the later Enlightenment to the mid nineteenth century has largely been neglected or has been studied under separate chronological categories. Little is known on the transformation from a more amateur-based concept of statistics to the first generations of a state-sponsored approach to statistics. Second, spatially speaking little is known for this period on the multiple cross-border activities of individuals, the transfer of knowledge and concepts such as statistics, and the underlying networks before we see a more organised and institutionalised approach from the 1840s onward.

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