A census is a peculiar document. It is one of the few unscripted pieces of historical evidence that narrate the lives of ordinary people, who were engaged at the time in nothing more extraordinary than going about their everyday affairs. As such, it is a portal to a popular culture rarely open to historians. This article details the purpose and progress of the Guadalajara Census Project. It is also about censuses in general, how they fit into the historian’s toolkit, and what they can and cannot do. Contemporary research in census data is curiously situated — riding the crest of one academic wave and wallowing in the trough of another. Online census data is the fastest-expanding historical resource available through the Internet; yet, except for statistically oriented fields such as historical demography or economic history, quantitative methods have fallen on hard times. In...

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