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Statistics on Dutch industry from the first half of the nineteenth century

Compiled by I.J. Brugmans, D. Damsma, J.M.M. de Meere and L. Noordegraaf

During the first half of the nineteenth century it became increasingly necessary to collect data on economic life systematically. As a result, so-called industrial surveys were carried out by central government in 1816, 1819, 1843 and 1848.

In 1923, I.J. Brugmans began collating the results of these surveys. The data were not stored in one single location but were spread out over a number of provincial and local archives. Despite delays caused by the economic recession of the 1930s and World War II, this painstakingly time-consuming inventory eventually resulted in a two-volume publication in 1956 numbering over 1,000 pages. A few decades later, D. Damsma, J.M.M. de Meere and L. Noordegraaf unearthed a number of previously unpublished responses to the industrial surveys. These were published in 1979 as a supplement to the earlier volumes.

These published statistics are of great importance to historical research. They show how Dutch industry was structured and reflect the changes it went through. In addition, the tables can be used to gain insights into the economic situation on a local level on the one hand, or to understand the structure of a specific branch of industry at the national level on the other. The tables also provide information on the history of trade and about economic and political history in that they list the import and export problems affecting each branch of industry. Last but not least, the tables are important from a cultural and social perspective because they provide us with an insight into the thoughts and opinions of Dutch entrepreneurs at that time.