The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

Census Lists of Jews in Bohemia 1723–1811: Limitations and Possibilities

The second half of the 17th to the 1880s in the Czech lands is referred as the period of so-called official anti-semitism. At the beginning of the 18th century, in the context of the efforts to find out the number of Jews and attempts to reduce it, the central authorities initiated the compilation of a census of the rural (1723/1724) and Prague Jewish population (1729). Further censuses were made regularly until the beginning of the 19th century (1811). Due to their range up to almost a century, it is possible to trace the dynamic transformation of the observed parameters relevant for the authorities (numbers of Jews in the earliest censuses, information regarding beginnings of Jewish settlement in individual localities in the later ones, payments of the contributors monitored in the 50s and early 80s, and marriage approvals and the residence permits in the youngest ones). Those transformations may also reflect changes in states` approach to this minority.

The lecture deals with the possible usage of the censuses for the tracking of Jewish settlement changes in the given period, primarily based on the size of the families, professional and social structure, etc. It will be shown in concrete examples how those regulations have been complied with using the comparison with central regulation toward the Jewish population. It will also be mentioned under what conditions and to what extent exceptions were provided (with a focus on wedding consensus, residence permits, and authorization to practise a certain profession).