2 fantastic digital archives: Istanbul Households archives, 1880-1940: census data and family history documents now accessible online

Children from a well-to-do family, 1910
Children from a well-to-do family, 1910

Istanbul Households archives, 1880-1940: census data and family history documents now accessible online

Two separate archives, Mosaic (www.censusmosaic.org), holding quantitative data, and SALT research (www.saltresearch.org), holding census and family history documents from an interdisciplinary research project undertaken at Boğaziçi University (Istanbul)  during the 1980s on family, household and population in Istanbul during the late Ottoman and early republican periods are now open to public use online. The project was the first systematic historical study of family and population in Turkey and the Middle East, combining the methods and approaches of social anthropology, historical demography and social history.  The research culminated in the publication of  Duben and Behar, Istanbul Households: Marriage, Family and Fertility 1880-1950, Cambridge University Press, 1991 and its Turkish editions, İstanbul Haneleri: Evlilik, Aile eve Doğurganlık 1880-1940, İletişim Yayınları, 1996 and Boğaziçi Ünivesitesi Yayınları, 2013, as well as various scholarly papers on the subject.

  1. Mosaic census records: Ottoman census data for Istanbul, 1885 (1300h) and 1907 (1322h)

The original five percent samples of Ottoman census data for the permanent Muslim population of Istanbul for 1300h (ca. 1885) and 1322h (ca. 1907) are available from the Mosaic archive of historical census data for Europe and beyond.  All records in the archive are structured in the same format so that historical comparisons can be made across time and space.  More specifically, these data bases allow those researching late Ottoman society to undertake comparisons with non-Ottoman data bases and vice versa.

For more information about Mosaic see: Mikołaj Szołtysek and Siegfried Gruber, “Mosaic: recovering surviving census records and reconstructing the familial history of Europe” The History of the Family, available online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1081602X.2015.1006655

The address for access is www.censusmosaic.org .  To access the Istanbul data sets one must register, then click “Data,” followed by “Mosaic Data Files,” and then under  “Harmonized Data Sets,”  scroll down to Turkey where the 1885 (1300h) and  1907 (1322h) census data sets can be found. Information about use and various caveats is provided.


  1. Istanbul Households archive at SALT, Istanbul


The SALT archives located at SALT Galata, Istanbul contain a broad array of materials utilized during the research and writing of Istanbul Households, all accessible online. The complete set of original handwritten transcription sheets used during the early 1980s for recording census data and vital events on site from the official rosters for the permanent Muslim population of Istanbul for 1300h (ca. 1885) and 1322h (ca. 1907)for five central districts of Istanbul are available here.  In addition to the transcription sheets various documents containing descriptions of principles, rules, definitions and other guidelines for transcription and data use as well as instructions for recording, transcribing and coding for the censuses and records of vital events are also available.  Lists of birthplaces, occupations, titles and status-markers of individuals recorded are also available, as are numerous family photographs of the period from 1880-1940. Transcriptions of selected Ottoman court records relating to marriage, divorce, and inheritance utilized during the research period are also available.  These resources provide a part of the “back story” of this research project that took nearly ten years to complete.  Summaries of hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles from the period on population, family, marriage, women, childcare, domestic life and related topics will be available shortly, as will sociological and demographic analyses of  major novels of the period. Information about the Istanbul Households collection, its coverage, use, meaning, and limitations is available from the archive. General information about SALT and the archives can be obtained at www.saltresearch.org.


Access to the SALT Istanbul Households archive is available directly by clicking: https://www.archives.saltresearch.org/R/ML2IGQI3E2R7LGGG2P5XH8ED7VVEGSA1IDXEREVJPLB1G2C4JY-01582?func=collections&collection_id=3241

We request that researchers properly acknowledge and cite any materials used from either archive.




Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.