Source - Les listes nominatives du recensement

Produced every five years starting in 1836, the listes nominatives are a summary of the census, providing information on each individual with some of his or her characteristics, such as name, year of birth, and occupation (see the presentation of the source on FranceArchives). They are organized spatially, each individual being located in a household, itself located in a house, which belongs to a neighborhood (or a hamlet) of a municipality (commune). The vast majority of the lists are kept in the Archives Départementales.

For quantitative history (social, economic, demographic...), the weakness of the listes is the limited nature of the information they contain: they inform the structure of households and family ties, which is valuable, but contain very little socio-economic information to contextualize them. But, they do have two main advantages, complete coverage and stability over time. Indeed, with a few exceptions (the most prominent being population “comptée à part”) and conditional on being well preserved, the listes record all individuals present in metropolitan France every five years. This full coverage makes them a valuable asset for tracking individuals over time, from one census to the next. Moreover, the structure of the listes themselves is quite stable over time, with precise rules over the position of each individual. We intend to take advantage of this stability to develop automated transcription models for extracting the information contained in the millions of listes nominatives.