The first meeting: Brussels 1853
in States and statistics in the nineteenth century

In September 1853 Brussels was for a short time the centre of statistics. This chapter is concerned with the key role of Adolphe Quetelet, who was the Statistical Society's official correspondent. Belgium's pioneering role in the European statistical movement was informed both by its liberal polity and the special status of statistics within it, and by Quetelet's key position as an intellectual. Quetelet and Auguste Visschers launched the proposal at the meeting of the Central Commission for Statistics of 11 July 1851. Given their value to statisticians, it is no wonder that the implementation and refinement of the census and population registers was an important item on the agenda of the international statistical congress in Brussels. In the congress programme that was dispatched in the spring of 1853, the census was high on the list of discussion topics, second only to the organisation of statistics in general.

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