Annales de démographie historique

Epidemics and Populations Publication date : January 1, 1998

The magazine Annales de Démographie Historique was launched in Paris in the early '60s by the founders of French demographic history, Louis Henry, Pierre Goubert, Marcel Reinhard, André Armengaud, and Jacques Dûpaquier. The Annales would be responsible, on an international scale, for the complete renewal of the methods and approaches used to study populations from the past. The reconstitution of families carried out in thousands of French villages led to a better understanding not only of the characteristics and the dynamics of traditional demography, but also of the transformations that resulted in our present type of demography (traditional fertility followed by voluntary birth control; age at marriage; marriage rate; mortality rate; and family structures). Over the past decade, the field of demography has seen several major transformations, including: an increasing number of studies on urban and industrial populations, a growing interest in recent (19th- and 20th-century) changes, and the development of new types of quantitative analyses which have provided the means for the investigation of multifaceted individual itineraries (and favoured the study of processes over that of structures). Needless to say, such research stands at the intersection of several traditional disciplines: history and demography, but also economics, sociology, and anthropology.
First published annually by the Société de Démographie Historique and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Annales de Démographie Historique will be published biannually by Editions Odile Jacob, starting in 1998. The first issue, entitled Epidémies et Populations, reviews the main results of past research and traces the history of various approaches to the study of epidemics and demographics; it examines several major traditional epidemics such as smallpox, cholera, leprosy, and puerperal fever. It also addresses several major issues including the role played by water sources and the importance of sanitation policies in reducing the mortality rate. The present age, marked by the advent of the AIDS epidemic, as well as by the increasing number of strains that remain resistant to scientists' therapeutic arsenal and by the high incidence of epidemics in developing countries, is compelled to re-examine past epidemics in the light of the questions posed today.