‘Sadder and wiser’: St Petersburg 1872 and Budapest 1876
in States and statistics in the nineteenth century

The international statistical congresses in St Petersburg in 1872 and Budapest in 1876 tackled the issue of using graphics in statistics. The congress in St Petersburg was delayed by the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871, but in August of 1872 representatives of every country in Europe made their way to the Russian capital. The attempts made by the international statistics community to streamline their organisation by establishing a 'supranational' permanent commission, were at odds with the inward orientation of national governments. The proposal to establish a permanent commission dated from the Berlin congress too, but nothing had come of it. Petr Petrovich Semenov believed that the solution was to improve the distribution of tasks among 'producers' and 'consumers' of statistics. He believed that the best results could be achieved by establishing a permanent commission, based on the ideas put forward by Ernst Engel in Berlin in 1863.

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