fsu torches florida state university
fsu torches
fsu torches Guadalajara Census History: 1600-1850

  Campus Map
About the Guadalajara Censuses Project
Guadalajara: Background & History
Guide to Database Designing
CD ROM Information

 Print Friendly vers.
Spanish version


Guadalajara Census History: 1600-1850
by Dr. Rod Anderson, Project Director

List of Guadalajara Censuses through 18201

Census Year
Population counted
Thomas Calvo estimate 1600
Spanish, castes, indios
Mota y Escobar 1602
Spanish (173 "vecinos" + women, child.)
Arregui (Calvo estimate) 1621
Spanish, Indios, castes
Arregui 1621
Spanish (200 vecinos + women, children)
Thomas Calvo estimate 1700
All in and around the city.
Mota Padilla 1738
Spanish adults
Mota Padilla (Berthe estimate) 1738
Spanish only, including children
Mota Padilla (Calvo estimate) 1738
All in and around the city.
Villaseñor 1745
"familias" Spanish, Indios, castes
Ecclesiastical visita 1760
Mateo José de Arteaga 1770
Persons over two, Sagrario
Imperial Census 1777
All persons
Revillagigedo Censuses: 1791-93
"Military" census 1792
Spaniards, Castizos, Mestizos
Menéndez Valdes 1793
All including Analco & Mejicalcingo
Fernando Cambre 1803
No information available.
Humboldt "census" 1803
A likely erroneous estimate
Royal Census 1811 Total count is unknown.
Gov. José de la Cruz: 1813
Spanish, Indios, castes
"M.B." 1815?
No information available.
Ayuntamiento estimates 1815-19


    Thomas Calvo estimates that at the beginning of the seventeenth century Guadalajara's population contained approximately five hundred Spaniards, with an equal number of castas and perhaps twelve hundred Indians living in the barrios of Mejicalcingo and Analco. He projects that by 1621 between three to four thousand Spaniards and castes can be found living in and around the city, although Francois Chevalier's estimate (using the same source) is somewhat less. For much of the rest of the seventeenth century, Guadalajara appeared to stagnate, as did so much of the colony. But with the coming of the eighteenth century and the economic revival of western Mexico, Guadalajara's place as the economic, administrative and religious center of the region attracted significant migration. The annual Eucharist communion of 1738 registered 8018 adults and 1541 houses. Using this figure, Jean Pierre Berthe estimates the total population to be some twelve thousand, including children, clerics and Spaniards living in Indian barrios; Thomas Calvo estimates around fifteen thousand, which I imagine is not far wrong. By 1745 José Antonio Villaseñor y Sánchez describes a city of eight plazas; fourteen churches, monasteries and convents; two colleges and a university; two hospitals and a dozen government buildings or public facilities, making Guadalajara a fine, surprisingly spacious city and prosperous city by his light.2


In 1760 a parish count carried out during an ecclesiastical visita listed 11294 residents, only a modest gain from theearlier official figure. The total population in Guadalajara and its environs was certainly much higher. Carried out in 1770, the next ecclesiastical census ("Mateo José de Arteaga") which included only persons over two years of age found 22394 residents registered in the city's only parish, Sagrario, an astonishing increase in population. The reasons are various. Likely the earlier (1760) figure is too conservative. Certainly "natural" increase through births over deaths could not have represented the sole cause of this near doubling of population. Perhaps most important would have been immigration, in this "society of travelers" (sociedad de viandantes) to use Thomas Calvos phrase. As early as 1725 half the persons married in the Parish were born elsewhere.3

    The first, royal population count taken in 1777 as part of the official "Imperial" census ordered for all Spanish colonies recorded 22163, a decline from 1770. In fact, the decrease would be rather large when one considers that this census did not count children under the age of two. Whether there was a decline, in fact, is difficult to determine.4 For a more detailed discussion of the possible sources for the population expansion ,and contraction, see Guadalajara: A Brief History.

Revillagigedo Censuses (1791-93: 24249)

    The crown's viceroy in Mexico, Count Revillagigedo II, ordered his intendants to draw up three census lists: 1) the tributary population--Indians and mulattoes, 2) all eligible, "useful" men, meaning those who would be subject to military service in the colonial militia, and 3) a summary of the total population by ethnic and occupational categories. The third census project was undertaken under the authorization of the viceroy-appointed visitador, José Menéndez Valdés between 1791 and 1793. It encountered 24249 individuals, including the two "Indian" barrios of Analco and Mejicalcingo. Unfortunately, although the aggregate figures have survived, the manuscripts on which they are based have not.5

    The so-called "military" census, however, has survived in manuscript form. Since this census was taken to provide a list of eligible (útiles) men for the city militia, no data on Indians and mulattoes were gathered, since they were not ineligible. Nonetheless, the census did survey all households headed by Spaniards, Castizos and mestizos, and obtained data on all individuals in those households, including name, age, ethnicity, occupation, marital status, social status (don or not) and physical condition of the "utiles" men, as well as the names of their spouses, children, employees and apprentices, renters, orphans and slaves. Auxiliary information on names of streets and types of residences was also gathered. For example, the manuscript lists 210 stores, of which 49 were commercial or retail outlets and 152 "tiendas públicas" meaning houses or shops where masters, journeymen and apprentices lived, worked and sold their products in the traditional fashion.6

Fernando Cambre (34,696) vs Baron von Humboldt (19,500) in 1803

    The next population census for Guadalajara has survived as an aggregate figure only. In October 1803 Guadalajara's Royal Actuary, Fernando Cambre, referred to "the recent censuses made" and provided the figure of 34697. Moreover, even its existence as an aggregate figure has been obscured by Baron von Humboldt's far better known (but far more likely to be erroneous) estimate of the city's population as 19500 in 1803. Despite its obvious inaccuracy, Humboldt's estimate has nevertheless been accepted as valid by nearly all nineteenth century and many modern authors. Unaware of the existence of the 1791-93 viceregal census figures for Guadalajara, which he specifically states was never taken, Humboldt based his population figure entirely on his own impressions. At the time, the Tribunal del Consulado knew about and relied upon the Cambre census figures even though they used many of Humboldt's other statistics.7

Population Estimates (1810-1819)

    The most difficult estimate of the city's population is the decade of the insurgency, 1810 to 1820. The first census of this decade was taken in 1811. However, only cuartel thirteen has survived in manuscript form. Nor am I aware of an aggregate total for that padrón. In 1813 the royal governor of the province of Nueva Galicia, General José de la Cruz, ordered a further census taken. In this case, history has been some what luckier. Of the twenty-four cuarteles, manuscripts for fifteen have been preserved by the Archivo Histórico Municipal. Although these documents do not give a total population for the city, a document elsewhere in the AHMG gives the population of Guadalajara in 1814 as 39624.8

    Several other, considerably larger estimates exists for this decade, suggest that at various times the city's population swelled to a considerable number. One is the M.B.", figure of 50,000. "M.B." was the translator of the book Idea estadísticas y geográfica del Reyno de Nueva España, published in Guadalajara in 1823, as a translation of a book originally published in French. Several other estimates by the local authorities between 1815 and 1819 place the population even higher, at from 60,000 to 70,000. Van Young considers those estimates to be unreliable and I would agree. However, M.B.'s 50,000 may be close to the actual figure for the middle years of the decade. In the one cuartel for which there is data on both the 1811 and the 1814 padrón--cuartel 13--the number of reported residents increased from 1263 in 1811 to 1769 in 1813, a 40.1 percent increase in only two years. Moreover, the 1821 census recorded considerable number of vacant houses, indicating that the city's population had been a good bit larger at some time in the recent past. The gap between the official census figures and the considerably larger estimates may represent not so much exaggerated, "unscientific" impressions as the fact that fixed counts at determined intervals more often capture the "ebb" than the "flow" of a city's considerable population movement. Whatever the official figures there can be little doubt that the city must have seen a tremendous flow of refugees and relatives, into and no doubt out of the city during those tumultuous years.9

1811 (Total unknown). Only one district manuscript has survived from this census taken at the end of the first phase of Mexico's break with Spain. However, it is for cuartel 13 and provides complete data on race, age, marital status, age, sex, and occupation-house by house, block by block with all street names, and in wonderfully clear penmenship. Total residents were 1,318. Its value is multiplied by the presence of a manuscript for the 1813 census, taken in exactly the same manner (probably by the same person), with the same detailed information, except that now (as in all districts for 1813), race had become either "Spanish" or "Spanish Citizens", the former referring to racially (ethnically) Spaniards and the second to Mestizos, Indians, etc. who were referred to as "citizens"of Spain in the liberal Spanish constitution of 1812.

Also it gives good data on transience during this tumultuous period, as three-quarters of the residents in 1813 were not there in 1811.

1813-14 (Total unknown). In December 1813 and January 1814, city authorities took a census ordered by the Crown as demanded by the new Constitution of 1812, which abolished racial/ethnic "castes" in favor of the simple Spanish or Spanish citizens. This padron was later criticized in 1821, when the orders were given for that fine census to be taken. For Guadalajara the quality varies. Perhaps the most favorable evaluation is that this census was an individual-level count. That is, they list all the required data for each individual in the household, not just for the head of the household as was the practice in most early nineteenth century censuses. It would be three decades, for example, before the first U.S. urban individual-level census taken (Boston, 1845). In Europe, the contemporary Parisian census of 1817 was an individual level census, although French censuses would not record complete age as they did in Guadalajara until 1851. There were others in Latin America, of course, especially noteworthy are the Buenos Aires census of 1810, 1827, 1838; the Mexico City census of 1811 and 1842; and Lima's post Independence census taken in 1831.

How complete is our data? Our holdings of the 1813-14 census, copied from the Guadalajara's Municipal Archives, are 9 out of 24, or 8,492 out of an estimated 30873. However, holdings in the Archive total 17 of 24 cuartels, or 23, 046 individuals. All give name, age, "race" (although only Spanish or not-Spanish), social status (don or doņa). Nearly all give street names, block numbers, household divisions. None give marital status although it can be inferred for married couples, none gave occupation, a major loss. Only one notes birthplace. Several have spoilage, one serious. Undercounting? Undercounting was a problem, as it still is today. However, just as today, specific sampling procedures can provide aggregate population figures, and indeed, that will be one of our instructional exercises. One measure of undercounting is the ratio of children 1 to 4 compared to the ages 5 to 9, for the latter outnumber the former, one can either assume undercounting, or that the era was itself unstable. The US in 1930, for example, was 1.100 and in 1950, .817. The GCP completed database for 1821-22 has a ratio of .909 indicating quite accurate counting (of at least the young), even in an unstable era. Preliminary sampling for 1813-14 indicate that ratios of 1 to 4 relative to 5 to 9 year olds will maintain a similar ratio.

Why should this census be useful? Because, as the two most outstanding historical demographers of our day wrote: "An immediate consequence of the upheavals and independence was that the few counts of population made were ...usually poorly done."10 The Guadalajara census of 1813 was one of the few, and while lacking important data, has other which can shed light on a troubled but crucial time in Mexico's history. The surviving cuartel manuscripts represent all sections of the city, particularly important being the populous cuartels 8 & 9 where lived so many of the city's indigenous peoples and poor of all castes. And racial data represents even greater portion of the city than the fine padrones of 1821. Located barely a decade after the 1791 census, and within seven years of the near complete 1821 count, the census of 1813-14 will provide a crucial historical resource on those years leading up to the break with Spain. Moreover, the completed database will be one of the few quantitative resource available for urban Latin America during this critical era, and the only one widely accessible, including that for Mexico City in 1811. Scholars will have the opportunity to seek out the obscure as well as the obvious, to "listen in," as it were, to the last bureaucrats of a dying empire assess their constituents for the final time.

1824 (Total unknown). Ordered by the new liberal governor of the republican state of Jalisco, with only 10 out of the 24 cuartels, this census is the least complete of all surviving 19th century census returns.11 For this reason, the GCP staff was divided on the wisdom of including this padron in our data. However, several factors argued for its inclusion. One, without exception, the manuscripts were clear, easy to read, contained specific household divisions, and provided full information for each individual on names, ages, marital status and residence, and substantial information on occupations. Unfortunately, caught up in the republican fevor of the moment, several of the districts dropped the social distinction of don/doņa for the egalitarian "citizen" for all residents. Race had been proscribed from all official documents and birthplace was not requested. But the data that was included was remarkably complete, and all regions of the city represented in the cuartels-city center and outskirts, socially more prominent districts and, again, the most populous district across the river, cuartel 8 (30 percent of our data). Also, the preliminary sample of three cuartels showed a ratio of 1 to 4 vs 5 to 9 of 1.040 or nearly even, suggesting the very young were generally counted. Perhaps the most important factor in my decision to include this partial census, however, is its proximity to the 1821 and 1822 padrones, thereby either affirming or disputing the provocative findings on mobility and the nature of the urban household structure in the 1821-22 data. (Samples taken for cuartels 5 and 12 indicate the former.) Just as was argued for including the 1822 partial counts, the rare proximity of even partial counts to the nearly complete 1821 census is too important to pass up. One further reason: the Guadalajara Municipal Archives contains a list of every person who receive votes in the first and only city commission election in the 19th century to permit universal manhood suffrage. There are an estimated several thousand names of different individuals who received votes in the entire city (the residents of cuartels 16 & 17 voted for over 700 different individuals). To be able to provide our census database of nearly fifteen thousand individuals living in approximately three thousand households (and in conjunction with the 1822 and 1821 data) will permit a rare quantitative look at Mexico's political process before the bitter political warfare ended this early experiment in democracy.

1838-42 (Total unknown). The final "census" is a collection of census manuscripts from two separate counts, a state-authorized count for 1838 and a federally-mandated census of 1842. Six of the nine districts (consolidated from 24) are represented, approximately thiry thousand individuals. The missing cuartels are cuartels one, two and three. Their authorization was a combination of state and national; 1838 ordered by state and 1842 a national mandated count. I have seen no city-wide official population total for either year, but an 1848 count gives the city's population as 35,762, including two recently annexed nearby indigenous villages not official part of the city in 1842. The data almost universally included were cuartel, block, address, street, name, age, marital status and occupation. A few still gave the honorarium "don or doņa" but most did not. The 1842 data provided the exceptionally useful data on literacy (could the individual read and/or write) for all individuals. Our sampled age ratio for young children indicates an under-counting or era instability and probably both. On the other hand, the census taker was a local resident responsible for only a block, hopefully creating a more accurate counting of adults. The literacy data gives a special value to these particular returns, as does the fact that the number of comparable cities with surviving mid century censuses are relatively few The most comprehensive source of Latin American censuses lists some four thousand, of which three-quarters are for Mexico. For Mexico, twenty three local manuscript censuses taken after 1850 are listed, of which eleven are for Mexico City including the important 1842 census. Of the others, only Oaxaca (1875) is comparable in size and importance to Guadalajara. Of the local censuses for the rest of Latin America, Lyman Platt (1998) lists only a bare handful, of which only Mendoza (1855) and B.A (1838, 1855), Quito (1833), Montevideo, Uruguay (1860) and Guatemala City (several years) are comparable in size and importance to Guadalajara.12


1. Calvo's estimate for the year 1700 in the chart below is based on the count of the Sagrario parish ("casi unicamente criollos y castas") and baptisms at the San Francisco parish, nearly all indigenous. So of the ten thousand estimated population, he suggests that one-forth are indigenous, saying "ser tapatío es, por tanto, ser mestizo, y...querer ser español." Guadalajara y su región en el siglo XVII. Población y economia (Guadalajara: Centro de Estudios Mexicanos y Centroamericanos, 1992), 52

2. Thomas Calvo, La Nueva Galicia en los siglos XVI Y XVII (Guadalajara, 1989), p. 20. Ibid., p. 23. See Domingo Lázaro de Arregui, Descripción de la Nueva Galicia, Estudio preliminar de Francois Chevalier (Guadalajara: Unidad Editorial, 1980; 1st ed. 1946), population estimates, p. 115, 120. The 1738 population estimate comes from Mota Padilla's work, la Historia de la Conquista del Reino de la Nueva Galicia, chapters XCIII and XCIV. On the latter, see J.C. Franco, "Guadalajara Breve Reseña desde su fundación hasta completetar un millión de habitantes," Gaceta Municipal, TXXXII, num. 6 (Junio 1964), pp. 1-3. For Berthe's estimate, see María Angeles Galvez Ruíz, La conciencia regional en Guadalajara y el gobierno de los intendente (1786-1800) (Guadalajara: Unidad Editorial, 1996), p. 95. Galvez's discussion of the padrones of the Bourbon era is quite useful (Ibid., 95-102). For Calvo's estimate for 1738, see Calvo, Guadalajara y se region, 52. For Villaseñor's report, see Iguíniz, Guadalajara a través de los tiempos, p. 85. Villaseñor estimated a population of eight to nine thousand Spaniard, mestizo and mulato "familias," not counting the Indians who populated the barrios on the city's margins. Unless he meant to include the surrounding area, his figure is clearly incorrect. Even a low estimate of residents per family would give the city an excessively high population.

3. Sherburne F. Cook and Woodrow Borah, Essays in Population History: Mexico and the Caribbean, vol. 1 (Berkeley, Calif.: U. of California Press, 1971). The 1770 census was carried out by the canónigo Mateo José de Arteaga. It was published as Descripción de la Diocesis de Guadalajara de Indias, and is now located in the Biblioteca Pública Provincial de Toledo (Spain); see José Menéndez Valdes, Descripción y Censo General de la Intendencia de Guadalajara, 1789-1793, Estudio Preliminar de Ramón Ma. Serrera (Guadalajara: Unidad Editorial, 1980), p. 17. For Calvo's estimates, see his Guadalajara y su región, pp. 162-69; quote p. 166.

4. For the 1777 data see Páez Brotchie, Guadalajara, pp. 85-87. Páez Brotchie's 1777 data was originally published by Luis M. Rivera, "La población de Guadalajara según los censos oficiales," Gaceta Municipal de Guadalajara, 15 de junio de 1917, vol. 1, no. 6. At the time of publication, Rivera was the director of the municipal archives. My attempt to locate the original manuscript in the municipal archives has proved fruitless.

5. Carmen Castañeda, "Una Representación Colectiva de Guadalajara en 1791," Urban History Workshop Review, vol. 3 (1995), pp. 1-9. Several historians but most notably Eric Van Young believe that the Revillagigedo figure does not include the Indian barrios of the city; Hacienda and Market in Eighteenth-Century Mexico. The Rural Economy of the Guadalajara Region, 1675-1820 (;Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981), p. 32, note b to table 1 and footnote 6. However, administratively these two barrios had been absorbed by the city in the seventeenth century, and the cuartel reforms of 1790 clearly created cuartels twelve, thirteen and fourteen for the barrios of San Juan de Díos, San José and Analco and Mejicalcingo respectively. See Carmen Castañeda, "Guadalajara hace 200 años: el Reglamento de Cuarteles de 1790 y el Padrón de 1791," in Castaneda, Vivir en Guadalajara. La Ciudad y Sus Funciones (Guadalajara, Ayuntamiento de Guadalajara, 1992), 41-57. Moreover, the "military" census portion of the Revillagigedo counts specifically incorporated the barrios of Mejicalcingo and Analco in their census; Archivo General de la Nación, Padrones. Guadalajara, 1791. Finally one might expect that with the absence of the Indian barrios, the portions of the Indians in the two censuses would be different. However, the Indian portion stays nearly the same (18.5 %, 1777 and 17.5% in 1793). The great change is in the mulatto portion, dropping from 36.7 % to 27.0 % in 1793. Few mulattoes lived in the Indian barrios. The text of the "Revillagigedo Census" has a long and curious history, and has been republished several times. For its history (as well as for the most reliable presentation of the figures), see the work of Ramón Ma. Serrera, José Menéndez Valdés, Descripción y Censo General de la Intendencia de Guadalajara, 1789-1793, Estudio Preliminar de Ramon Ma. Serrera (Guadalajara: Unidad Editorial, 1980), pp. 15-35. Serrera was unable to find in the Archivo General de Indias in Sevilla the manuscripts on which the figures were based. It appears that they were not sent to Spain along with the summary reports for the archive index states "Inventarios...que no se remiten por voluminosos." (Ibid., p. 26.) Whether they still survive, undiscovered, in some remote, little used and un-indexed repository in Guadalajara, is simply not known. Fragmentary sources for the Revillgigedo census can be found in the AHMG, including instructions on taking the census ("Modelo para former Padrones" including what appears to be a partial list of the city's crafts and other occupations (2181) has survived in the AHMG, caja 1094 ("paquete" 12), legajo 35, dated 1792. See Rodney D. Anderson, Guadalajara a la consumación de la Independencia: estudio de su población según los padrones de 1821-1822 (Guadalajara: Unidad Editorial, 1983), p. 104.

6. An exception to this is the practice of the census takers to note in the manuscript the houses where mulattoes and Indians lived. Recorded, for example, were 250 casas and "xacales" inhabited by Indians and 1341 by mulattoes. Moreover, Indians and mulattoes were noted by name where they appear in households of eligible persons. This census has been most closely studied by Dra. Carmen Castañeda and her students. See Castañeda, "Una Representación Colectiva," 1-9.

7. Boyer and Davies, Urbanization in Nineteenth Century Latin America, p. 38, cites Humbolt's figure without comment but used the rounded off 35,000 taken from a 1805 Tribunal del Consulado data; see the text of the Tribunal data published in Enrique Florescano e Isabel Gil, Descripciones económicos generales de Nueva España, 1784-1817 (México, 1973), p. 195. Luis Pérez Verdía used the Humboldt estimate until he discovered a reference by Cambre, written in October of 1803, to "the recent censuses made" and providing the 34697 figure. See Luis Páez Brotchie, Guadalajara, Jalisco, México. Su crecimiento, división y nomenclatura durante la época colonial 1542-1821 (Guadalajara: Gobierno del Estado de Jalisco, 1951), pp. 127-128. Unfortunately Perez Verdía did not give a specific documentary reference to the Cambre figure and neither Páez Brotchie nor I have encountered any such manuscripts in Guadalajara's Municipal Archive. Both Richard E. Boyer, in his article "Las ciudades mexicanas: perspectivas de estudio en el siglo XIX" in Historia Mexicana vol. XXII, no. 2 (octubre-diciembre 1972):148, and Alejandra Moreno Toscano, "Cambios en los patrones de urbanización en México, 1810-1910," in the same issue, p. 167, use the Humboldt estimate and draw specific and perhaps unreliable conclusions from it.

8. The one padrón of 1811 is found in the Biblioteca del Estado de Jalisco, "documentos sueltos." AHMG, caja 1108, legajo 27. Páez Brotchie, Guadalajara, pp. 135-140, provides some information on the 1814 census. Van Young, Hacienda and Market, table 1, p. 31. Young's citation is AHMG, caja 15. I have been unable to find the original document, although I have no doubt of its existence. However, one should also note that the total population counts contained in those cuartel manuscripts which have survived are, with only two exceptions, less than the same cuartel in 1821, which returned a total population very similar to the 39,624 in 1814.

9. Boyer and Davies, Urbanization in Latin America, p. 38. Eric Van Young, Hacienda and Market, p. 31, 35. The manuscript of the 1811 padrón of cuartel 13 is located in the Biblioteca del Estado de Jalisco, "Documentos Sueltos," and is dated 11 diciembre 1811. The 1814 manuscript for the same cuartel is located in the AHMG, legajo 27, exp. 2, dated 31 diciembre 1813. Total vacant structures, mainly houses, were 293. However, fifteen cuartels in 1821 reported no vacant houses, most likely because they considered them irrelevant. An average of vacant houses for all 24 cuartels times the average household size in 1821 arrives at close to four thousand extra population if all houses were full. That, I suspect, is a conservative figure.

10. Sherburne F. Cook and Woodrow Borah, Essays in Population History: Mexico and the Caribbean, vol. 1 (Berkeley, 1971), 187.

11. The original index of documents received by the Archivo Municipal lists only nine of the ten, noting that they had not received the others. The tenth available cuartel, number 15, must have come in later. No other cuartel census manuscript for 1824 is ever listed in the index, suggesting strongly that the others were either never taken or that they were never sent to the archives and are probably lost to history.

12. Lyman D. Platt, Census Records for Latin America and the Hispanic United States (Baltimore, 1998). The Guadalajara Censuses Project has hard copies of the original manuscripts for all the years listed. This is fortunate because after a recent intensive search by Archive staff, no manuscripts were found for cuartels 14 and 16 (1821) and 5 (1842). My copies were made in the 1980s, just prior to the Archive's move from one location to another.





Search WWW Search www.fsu.edu

fsu seal
fsu seal
FSU Home | Search | Arts & Sciences |
© 2003 Florida State University, historyweb@fsu.edu
florida state university
fsu seal