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Birth, Marriage, and Death in 19th Century Todos Santos: The Historical Demography of a “Pueblo Mágico” // Nacimiento, Matrimonio y Muerte en el siglo XIX de Todos Santos: La Demografía Histórica de un Pueblo Mágico
July 4 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm UTC+0
The historic growth and expansion of populations on the Baja California peninsula is poorly understood. This is not surprising for a portion of North America dubbed “the Forgotten Peninsula.” The gap in knowledge is particularly bad for most portions of the 18th and 19th centuries. Despite these issues, birth, marriage, and death records exist for a number of peninsular communities spanning this time period, the largest of which is Pablo Martinez’s, Guía Familiar de Baja California (Martinez 1965). Martinez’s volume contains the birth, baptismal, death, and marriage records for thirteen communities spanning 1700-1900 AD. Here we present analyses on the population dynamics of one community, Todos Santos, using this untapped historical dataset, uncovering trends in birth, marriage, migration, and death spanning an 80-year period (1820-1900 AD). Analyses suggest that 1) people delayed marriage until they were in their mid-twenties; 2) age of marriage and time between births increased over time; 3) despite late age at marriage, female fertility was quite high across time; and 4) catastrophic, epidemic diseases (e.g. whopping cough) affected population structure and birthing decisions. We interpret these findings through the lens of historical demography. In an attempt to improve this project, we make our dataset available to the public and offer individuals with long family histories in the region to relate stories about these historic processes.