Ekaterina Nikolaevna Abdrakhmanova,
Metrical Books as a Source of Information about Children in Merchant Families of Orenburg in 1862–1869
Analysis of registers of births as a source of information about children in merchant families provides a large amount of information concerning both demographic aspects and issues that can be attributed to the history of everyday life. First, by studying the metrics, one can obtain information about the frequency of births in merchant families, the total number of children, and the ratio of births of boys and girls. Secondly, this source provides information about the choice of merchant parents’ names for their heirs. The analysis of naming makes it possible to reveal certain cultural characteristics of the merchant class, their inclinations and preferences. The study of issues related to the choice of godparents gives even greater scope for scientific creativity. The estate of the godfather and mother, their kinship with the baptized person and his parents – all this helps to determine the social status of the merchant family, its social ties, and hence the role this dynasty played in the urban community. On the basis of an analysis of the birth registers of three Orenburg churches, whose parishioners were mainly merchants, the author comes to the conclusion that the birth rate in Orenburg in 1862–1869 was among the highest in European Russia. The main factors influencing the birth rate were high infant mortality and young parents. The choice of the name of newborns was greatly influenced by religion, as well as the social status of the parents. Very often, children were named after relatives: grandfathers, grandmothers, aunts, uncles, and even the parents of the newborn. The merchant families also took a responsible approach to the choice of the godparents. As a rule, they were from among the wealthy people and relatives. This made it possible to provide children with all kinds of support (social, financial, psychological) in the event of an early departure from life of their parents. In general, registers of births allow us to reconstruct a fairly wide layer of the family sphere of everyday life of the Orenburg merchants and to obtain interesting data on the social communications of this class.
The article has been received by the editor on 15.12.2020
How to cite: Abdrakhmanova E.N. Metrical Books as a Source of Information about Children in Merchant Families of Orenburg in 1862–1869 // Historical Courier, 2021, No. 1 (15), pp. 52–65. [Available online:] http://istkurier.ru/data/2021/ISTKURIER-2021-1-05.pdf
Links: Issue 1 2021
Keywords: Orenburg; merchants; metric books; everyday life; children; birth rate; naming; godparents