I am an undergraduate student studying Geographic Information Systems. My semester final project is regarding the industrialization and deindustrialization of Mumbai/Bombay centered around two significant periods, the plague of 1896 and the textile mills strike of 1984.

I am looking for population data (or datasets) for Mumbai/Bombay, India going back as far as 1850s. So far, the earliest readily available population data I can find is 1991. I've datamined a bit and found population data within early 20th century publications, but all provide different numbers. I understand that population estimations for Mumbai/Bombay will vary greatly for this time period depending on the source; however, it would help tremendously if I could find a trusted source that stretches back to at least mid-19th century.


It's been a long time since I used them, but as far as I remember the Indian Institute in Oxford (part of the Bodleian libraries) holds annual reports for each province of British India from the early- or mid-C19th (varies by province) through to independence. However, these are paper records and you would need to visit in person to manually enter the data (which, from experience, will be sloooooow). It's possible other copies still exist.

At the time I used them (also for a disease project; sadly I don't have the population data) in ~2003 the staff were supportive of using photocopiers or digital photography to digitise some of the records despite the age of the books. Several had to have the pages cut before I could use them, so they hadn't been read since they were printed over 150 years earlier.

The Indian Institute records were kept in the top floor of the New Bodleian in Oxford but since I used them that building has been refurbished so it's possible they're kept off-site now, in which case you will need to place a stack request for the volumes you need. The staff at the Bodleian will be able to help with that though.

Given the subject of your project it may also be useful to know that the reports included monthly deaths from plague (as well as other causes of death including diarrhoea & dysentery, fever, malaria, etc).

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