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Quebéc Demographic Study Approaches Perfection

The Quebec demographic studies project at the University of Montreal, nearly forty years in the making, now contains all pre-1800 Catholic baptisms, marriages, and burials.

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Type: Article
Resource: GenWeekly
Prepared by: Nathan Murphy
Word Count: 295 (approx.)
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The Programme de recherche en démographie historique at the University of Montréal has generated one of the most impeccable demographic studies on available. Their project, targeting Québec, and nearly forty years in the making, now contains all pre-1800 Catholic baptisms, marriages, and burials. Many countries have commenced demographic studies to understand fluctuations in society through the centuries, but none, with the exception perhaps of Iceland, can approach the accuracy of Québec's results. This research, available online in a subscription database, is a genealogist's fantasy.

Typical demographic studies, made from random samplings of the population, can aid family history research in many ways. They answer questions such as:

1. What was a groom's average age at marriage?

2. What was a bride's average age at marriage?

3. What was the average life expectancy three centuries ago?

4. What percentage of the population died as infants?

5. What was the average family size in the seventeenth century?

6. How long did parents wait after the birth of a child to have additional children?

7. How did these patterns change over time?

Answers to these questions bring genealogical research to life. They show where our ancestral families fit into contemporaneous societies and provide substantial clues to aid family historians in research where records are scarce.

The Québec study goes above and beyond classic demographic studies and their complete sample actually enables genealogists to trace individual French-Canadian ancestors back to French immigrants. This differs from the anonymity of most study's results. For a small fee, this database can be accessed from any Internet access point.

Other French-Canadian marvels resulting from this study include absolute rankings of the 25 most popular male and female given names, the most frequent surnames, immigrants with the most pre-1800 descendants, and immigrants with the most pre-1800 descendants carrying the imported surname.

Visit http://www.genealogie.umontreal.ca/ and boast about your finds to your struggling American neighbors.

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2004.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

*Effective May 2010, GenWeekly articles that are more than five years old no longer require a subscription for full access.

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