The oldest census in the areas that are today part of the Republic of Croatia was done in 1785. It was named “Josephine Census” after Joseph II the Austro-Hungarian Emperor (at the picture), who ordered it.
The purpose of the census was to count number of men eligible for military service. Among other regions of the Monarchy, it had covered areas of Slavonia as well as northwestern part of Croatia (known as “civilian” Croatia, as opposed to “militarized” region “Krajina” considered as a bordering buffer zone toward Otoman Empire).
Data collection without a deadline
The next census was done in 1805, but it was partial as the upper class of people (noblement, military personel and clergy) weren’t covered. Then, for the next 46 years there was no census performed in areas of today’s Croatia. The 1851 census wasn’t properly done (no “deadline” was set), so the collected data were so unsatisfactory that it’s results were never published.
Unsuccesfully performed 1851 census caused the administrators of the Monarchy to carefully prepare another one. In March, 23rd 1857 an executive order was issued in which a date was set for the new census which was to be performed in the whole country. The date was October 31st, 1857. To set a date was critically important for the accuracy of the census, and that was the first methodologically correct census in Croatian history.
More accurate results in 1857
Since the census was not geared toward any particular purpose (it was broad and general), it yielded more accurate results.
This census included person’s name & surname, exact birth date for men between 14 and 20 (while others were asked only for the year of their birth), religion, occupation, marital status, place of residence, presence/absence of the person during the data collection and the information about person’s livestock. A question about person’s nationality wasn’t included.
1857 Census was mostly destroyed and only statistical data remains.