Demography of a Shtetl. The Case of Piotrków Trybunalski


This quantitative study of Piotrków Trybunalski traces the evolution of the population in the typical early modern semi-agrarian town in which the majority of activity was concentrated in the Jewish suburbs into a provincial capital in Congress Poland. Through the use of longitudinal aggregations and family reconstruction it explores fertility, mortality, and marriage patterns from the early nineteenth century, when civil records were introduced, until the Holocaust, revealing key differences as well as striking similarities between local Jews and non-Jews. The example of Piotrków set in a broader European context highlights variations in the pre-transitional demography of Ashkenazi Jewry and lack of universal model describing the “traditional” or “eastern European” Jewish family.

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Tomasz M. Jankowski, Ph.D. (2014), was a post-doc scholar at the Friedrich-Christian-Lesser-Stiftung (2018-2021). He specialises in historical demography and social history of the Jews. He is the co-author of Hebrew Polish Tango (2019).
Note on Place Names and Their Transliteration
List of Figures and Tables


1 Quality of Vital Registration
 1 Legal and Ideological Context
 2 Sex Ratio at Birth as a Quality Measure
 3 Regional Perspective
 4 Local Perspective
 5 Additional Indicators of Registration Quality
 6 Causes of Under-Registration
 7 Vital Registration in Piotrków Trybunalski
 8 Conclusions

2 The Jewish Town of Piotrków
 1 What Is a Shtetl?
 2 The Twin-Town
 3 Economic Conditions
 4 Social Inequalities
 5 Naming Patterns and Social Attitudes
 6 Population Dynamics
 7 Conclusions

3 Marriage and Household Formation
 1 Quality of Marriage Registration
 2 Age at Marriage
 3 Permanent Celibacy
 4 Marriage and Socio-Economy
 5 Remarriage
 6 Divorce
 7 Household Formation
 8 Endogamy and Social Networks
 9 Conclusions

4 Births and Fertility
 1 Marital Fertility
 2 Premarital Conceptions and First Birth Interval
 3 Birth Intervals and Spacing
 4 Nonmarital Births
 5 Conclusions

5 Deaths and Mortality
 1 Infant and Child Mortality
 2 Distribution of Age at Death
 3 Breastfeeding, Mortality and Natural Increase
 4 Maternal Mortality
 5 Causes of Death
 6 Local Health Care
 7 Conclusions

 Archival Primary Sources
 Printed Primary Sources
 Data Sources for Figures 3–7
 Secondary Sources
Historical demographers; specialists in Jewish Studies; graduate students; historians of Piotrków Trybunalski
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