Internal migration represents a primary means of cultural transfer in history whereby people, goods, and ideas made their way from one region to another. Although movement across international borders receives a good deal of attention, the greater portion of human mobility occurred within or between regions in the same state as people brought their labor, habits, ideas, material wealth, and cultural notions from their home village or town. This article draws on materials from and , but the themes and findings are applicable outside these two nation states. Moreover, in many cases systems of internal migration influence, and are influenced by, international migrations across state borders. Fundamentally, changes in migration patterns since the 17th century originate in large-scale changes in landholding patterns, employment demands, demographic patterns, and the location of capital.1
Migration patterns were geographically uneven and temporally discontinuous. For example, the great changes in landholding patterns and rural work affected port cities and their hinterland were in the forefront of the economic and social changes that reshaped migration itineraries. Temporally, continuity and change in migration patterns interplayed to produce changes in mobility patterns simultaneous with enduring migration traditions. As a consequence, alongside new patterns of movement to new destinations, there existed familiar, long-standing migration itineraries.and the long before they came to the Eastern territories of Germany or the central highlands of France. Moreover, great
Rates of migration varied by region but generally speaking persisted at a rate much higher than once thought in preindustrial economies, then peaked during the era of industrialization that preceded World War I.2 Internal migration here includes a wide span of spatial movements from changing a residence beyond one's municipal boundary to leaving the region altogether; temporally, it ranges from to a lifelong move – a broad range which allows the most acute understanding of historical change.
It is most useful to categorize migrations into four kinds of movement, defined by the distance of the move and the definitiveness of the break with home: 1. local migration moved people within their home market, be it a marriage, land, or labor market; local migration may have extended over a good distance, but it did not take people out of contact; it included the relocation of peasants who purchased land and moved to a nearby village as well as women who married and moved to their husband's parish; 2. circular migration returned people home after a period of work away, like the montagnards of France who worked in lowland cities or harvest gangs in the winter and spring, or the servants whose adolescence found them in an urban bourgeois household; 3. chain migration was often the result – a drawing-off of people from home who went to a shared destination, where they were aided by compatriots and stayed on, like the servants and rural construction workers who established themselves in the city; 4. career migration operated by a distinct logic because the needs of the hiring institution – be it the church or the state – set the pace and destination, rather than those of migrants or their families.3 Gender marked the process of migration from beginning to end, since men and women were assigned different roles in work and in earnings. They were also perceived by themselves, their peers, and their superiors as suited for specific kinds of mobility; thus for much of history, men and women have distinct patterns of migration.
Migration in the preindustrial era, 1650–1750
Long-standing patterns of mobility held in the century before 1750, when a marked population increase and proliferation of rural industry were to bring a widespread shift in migration patterns. Peasant ownership was important to landholding, population growth was generally insignificant, most rural production was for local consumption, and there was relatively little capital outside the great cities. Yet movement was a normal part of rural routines as young people sought work in agriculture, harvest teams moved across the countryside, and people moved to marry or acquire land. Cities could not maintain their numbers without the intrepid newcomers who streamed through their gates.
European family systems called for geographical mobility, particularly because men and women in northwestern 4 Particularly in , then, a high proportion of young people were single and able to move from one household to another. In this rural world, most worked as farm servants if they left home – Gesinde in German areas, valets de ferme in France – most often on one-year contracts that allowed moving on as young people built their skills and reputation as workers, and searched for a mate. For example, in , in , young servants were more likely to enter and leave the village than any other group; 70 percent of single men aged 20 to 24 moved in any given year.5 In , a more sedentary variation on service work prevailed, where helpers were often young relatives who spent years in the house of an uncle, for example, before taking on more mobile service in late adolescence.6married relatively late and had a high rate of celibacy – in , between the 17th and the early 18th century, generally speaking, men married in their late twenties and women in their mid-twenties and ten to even 20 per cent remained single. By contrast, marriage was nearly universal in and women married quite young.
Marriage migration, like farm service, was built into the Western European family, since a taboo on incest prevented men and women from joining in wedlock with members of their own family; only in extraordinary cases were first cousins, for example, allowed to marry. Moreover, social norms dictated that one should marry someone of a similar social standing – and so a partner was often found outside one's own hamlet. In Beauvais in northern France, most brides and grooms came from the same parish – but from different hamlets, and a family register study from 7 Country people did not go far in their search for a mate, but someone usually moved: in the west, they were more likely to set up a new household, but where stem families prevailed, the bride would most often move in with her husband's family. If one desired, or was forced by circumstance, to leave home, local traditions provided the itineraries and the destination. And these could be far away. A village in the Haute-Marche of showed that while two-thirds of brides came from the parish and another quarter from less than ten kilometers away, many of the grooms had been to working as masons with their compatriots.8 Local practice meant that the men had seen the "world".shows that most partners came from within about ten kilometers.
The parish records of some villages and towns show no trace of many men and women after their birth; some of these departed people are precisely the migrants upon whom the early modern city depended for its survival, since the city in this age was a site of more deaths than births and could not maintain its numbers without the arrival of new migrants. Indeed, the city was more dependent on newcomers that it would be in later centuries; they were sites of disaster, especially in the 17th century in 9, due to the depredations of the Thirty Years' War, the Fronde in France, and wars in the Low Countries and western Germany. The four horsemen of the apocalypse – war, strife, famine, and death – took their toll on early modern cities like Swabian , reduced by 793 households between 1627 and 1640.
Urban natural decrease is a demographic fact, but migration is a social and economic phenomenon, so newcomers came to the city not to compensate for deceased children but to seek a livelihood. The early modern city was more than a deathtrap to the newcomer, who was the "lynchpin of the urban economy".10 This was a labor-intensive age for urban tasks as well as for rural work. For example, a Parisian printer's workshop in the late 1730s gave something of a livelihood to two apprentices and a host of insecurely employed journeymen as well as maids and the master's family – apprentices and journeymen were likely to be newcomers, as were the untold numbers of migrant women who waited on households, performed menial tasks in workshops and prayed behind convent walls. Indeed, women were in the majority in most western European cities. For example, the French city of in 1686 enumerated only 79 men for every 100 women in a census that counted valets and maidservants as adults. West of the , only a few cities, like the military center of early modern , housed more men than women.11
The citizenship lists of cities from Berlin south to 12 A systematic analysis of all cities for preindustrial Europe calculates that an average of about three percent of rural-born young people definitively relocated in the city and that about six to ten per cent "eventually got a taste of city life". These permanent departures were, in the late 17th century, the bulk of rural young people who could be spared by their family and village.13show that the "respectable" portion of society commanded a regional draw, because there were intimate connections between urban and rural elites, and among the elites of various towns. German Bürger records offer the most reliable evidence that about half of urban citizens were migrants from the outside – and other records demonstrate that the less prosperous non-citizens were even more mobile. For example, in , about half the citizens were migrants in 1700, but about two-thirds of non-citizens were migrants; the figures for nearby in 1675 were 57 per cent and 74 per cent respectively. Thirty-nine per cent of the bourgeois of the Norman city of were migrants in 1660, yet most migrants were less prosperous petits gens. The most reliable count estimates the minimal annual rate of mobility for German Bürgers at 2 to 8 per cent, and of all urban dwellers at 10 per cent or more – that is, 10 per cent of urban populations moved in or out of the city each year.
Migration in the age of early industry
Two sea-changes in western Europe modified the 17th-century patterns of scarce population, a mobile countryside, and cities that could only hold their own or slightly increase. The demographic base grew as the population began to rise consistently, recovering from the disasters of the previous century. Between 1750 and 1800, the population of Germany (using the 1914 borders less 14 A widespread drop in catastrophic mortality crises allowed more people to survive – with a few notable exceptions, the bubonic plague disappeared, and the hunger that rendered people susceptible to disease, killing children and cutting marriages short, seems to have waned in the years of good harvests after 1740. In some places, earlier and more widespread marriage produced more children.15and ) increased from 18.4 to 24.5 million – a 33 per cent increase – and that of France from 24.5 to 29 million – 18 per cent.
In addition, industrial production proliferated in the countryside, employing this growing population and abetting its growth by underwriting new marriages. Rural manufacture for distant markets expanded to unprecedented peaks as villages filled the orders of urban merchants for such products as thread, cloth, nails, and tools. Textiles and linen in particular employed the most workers. In 16, linen production flourished in , the , and ; in 70 per cent of the population depended on linen production by 1800. Manufacture expanded enormously in the lower as well between 1750 and 1800. Farther to the east, rural people in and spun flax and wove linen. In the west, the densely-populated and rich plain of was the center of linen manufacture where linen production tripled from 1746 to 1788, employing three out of four villagers. Likewise, the success of a cotton-linen blend called siamoise in the area expanded the number of fabric workers from about 57,000 to over 188,000 in fifty years, so that nearly one-third of the population of upper worked in textiles by 1782. Wool and cotton production also increased, as did silk in . This massive employment took on a particular shape: eight or more spinners supplied one weaver and some manufacturers employed thousands of villagers from headquarters in towns and cities. In many cases, production depended on men's off-season weaving and the spinning of their wives and daughters. Since women supplied the labor for spinning, they thus provided the majority of workers to textile production.
Each of these developments had dramatic consequences for long-standing patterns of migration. Rural industry had a distinct and complex impact on European mobility because it enabled people to earn necessary money while remaining in the countryside and working outside agriculture. It also produced manufacturing villages that attracted and retained newcomers, while reducing the geographic and economic divisions between town and country. Foremost, rural manufacturing enabled country people to find work in a village setting, thriving because it matched chronic rural underemployment to urban merchant capital. For those whose age and gender fitted the tasks in hand, there was no need for the kind of seasonal migration that supported montagnard harvest teams, for example. Ironically, migration allowed the establishment of rural industry because the freedom to settle was at the core of its proliferation. Production flourished where people were free to reside where they chose and where legal systems and landholding patterns made it possible to divide holdings, build new cottages, and occupy a variety of buildings. Where feudalism restricted free movement, rural industry arrived only in regions like Silesia, where it was incorporated into the feudal obligations of the serf.17
While emigration from manufacturing areas slowed as production expanded, migration increased elsewhere because the population grew in regions without strong manufacturing as well, although less dramatically. In these areas, population increases were fundamental to the creation of new migration systems and the expansion of extant systems of circular and chain migration. Although thousands of French and German men crossed international borders, much of this movement was between regions, as, for example, mountain dwellers from the 18descended to the valleys of , or those from the and to the lowlands. The greatest number of workers in northwestern Europe came to the Paris basin to work every year in response to the double attraction of harvest work in the and employment in the great city. At least 60,000 French were involved. In the city, men worked as water carriers, petty traders, laborers, and construction workers; in the fields that surrounded Paris, they worked as harvesters and vineyard laborers. The largest group came from the central highlands of France; others were from the and the west of the country.
This was the age of the mid-sized industrial town, because early industry "flourished best not as town or country, but as a complementary system involving both rural and urban places and the various elements of a regional urban hierarchy".19 Goods produced in the countryside underwent their most rudimentary transformations there, where nails were hammered, thread was spun, and rough cloth woven. In towns and cities, the more delicate tasks that required great finesse were carried out: fabric was processed in fulling mills, dyed, and finished. Just as crucial, the "structural framework for these export-oriented activities – embodied in markets, merchants, and sources of credit – remained urban".20 Urban records show that even in cities where growth was minimal, relatively high fertility and a high volume of new arrivals and departures animated the city. Moreover, city walls did not separate two distinct ways of life. The areas adjacent to city walls (the faubourgs in France) and villages in the immediate vicinity (the banlieue) housed spinners, weavers, market gardeners and the like, who benefited from fewer taxes and middlemen, so these peripheral areas grew at a greater rate than cities themselves.21
With the expansion of the population and of rural industry in the 18th century, the village laborer was more vulnerable than any landowning peasant. Men and women in villages that were in many cases quite remote depended on international markets for the goods they produced, markets over which they had absolutely no control. This scenario is rich in implications for the subsequent era. After this period during which unprecedented numbers of people made their livelihoods in a rural setting, village economies would shift drastically during the 19th century and rural people would be forced from countrysides that could no longer support them.
Migration in the age of urbanization and industrialization
The 19th century produced an urban society. Urbanization, the growth in the proportion of people living in cities, was a central fact of European life as urban growth outstripped rural growth. By 1900, over one-fifth of Germans and French resided in towns of over 20,000 – and many gathered in cities that were larger than any in European history; by 1900, for example, Paris reached 2.5 million.22 Suburbs of large cities had grown at a greater pace than the city centers, and new factory cities rose on the horizon. Village society had lost its preeminence forever.
Research demonstrates that urban growth did not come from a single cityward move on the part of rural people, dazzled by urban prospects; rather, urbanization resulted from crises that shook rural areas and people moved many times in the search for a secure livelihood. In this age, migration rates reached their historical maximum before World War I. People moved to and from the city as their life cycle and economic circumstances dictated, and they moved with greater frequency than previously imagined. Migration to the city, then, is better understood as a pulsing two-way current between town and country rather than as attraction to a magnet.23 This understanding of migration confirms historians' rethinking of industrialization, which is coming to be understood more as a long and diffuse process involving capital and labor and less as a technology-driven development of mechanized factory production.
The complex migrations of this era of urbanization and industrialization unfolded against the background of existing mobility patterns. Local migration systems retained a certain importance for rural markets. Between 1850 and 1914 circular migration systems came to a peak as teams of agricultural and construction workers did the crucial work of harvesting and city building. Simultaneously, chain migration from villages and small towns to cities became more important as thousands of young people sought urban livelihoods where their kin and compatriots had gone. Finally, careers migration became more important than ever before for lay people as the national state became a major employer. The bureaucratization of government functions, the growth of state postal and education systems, to say nothing of the formation of the nation state ofand the establishment of the Third Republic in France, meant that unparalleled numbers of clerks, officials, and schoolteachers were assigned to posts by their employers.
Fundamental to this age of migration was an unprecedented increase in population, outstripping the growth of the late 18th century: between 1800 and 1913 the population of Germany more than doubled (from 24.5 to 58.5 million), while that of France increased by 43 per cent (from 29 to 41.5 million)24– and these figures do not count the millions of Germans who departed from the continent at this time. Widespread improvements in food production and mortality underlay this increase, which also served to inflate the proportion of proletarians in the countryside. The shift from serf to laborer was swift and dramatic in Germany's eastern provinces, where in many instances serfs were freed only to become farm servants or cottagers (Knechte or Instleute) and then landless laborers who were paid in kind and only had a small patch of land to work (Deputanten).25 Population growth and proletarianization had clear implications for migration, since the landless were the most willing to move and most affected by rural crises.
In the long term, population growth and industrial development would result in a much larger and urbanized labor force. But before this urbanization was effected, a trio of uneven changes would rock the countryside that eventually drastically reduced sources of income. Consequently, in the short run, particularly in the period between 1850 and World War I, crises in rural economies promoted mobility. The first change was the development of capitalist agriculture that shook the year-round employment of farm servants that had been so fundamental to agricultural life; the new agriculture demanded large teams of workers for the short term – whether to hoe sugar beets, harvest hay, or dig potatoes. Second, a series of crop failures struck the potato in the midst of the "hungry forties", then the grape, which undermined wine production. Diseases that struck the mulberry tree and silk worm ruined the silk industry of France. Finally, the widespread demise of rural industry, first undercut by mechanized spinning, and then the loss of weaving that came half a century later in some areas, took a most visible toll. Villages became smaller and more agricultural; this was the deindustrialization of the countryside.
The German provinces east of the 26 Many villagers came to depend upon rural industry for at least part of their livelihood. They grew flax, produced wool, spun and wove textiles; they made charcoal, forged nails, and produced tools and shoes for local use. The number of looms used by part-time linen weavers in Prussia doubled in the 40 years after 1816. The people of northeastern Germany became more dependent on rural industry by the middle of the 19th century, later than in most parts of the Low Countries, France, , or Saxony. In the 1870s and 1880s, rural industry and rural agricultural employment collapsed. Acreage of flax in Germany dropped from over 530,000 acres in 1872 to 42,000 on the eve of World War I.27 In short, the crises that had stricken the rural linen and iron industries in western Germany earlier in the century invaded the northeastern provinces after the creation of the Germany Empire in 1871. Undermined in every quarter, the people of the eastern German provinces expanded existing small-scale migration streams and created new ones to and to the burgeoning cities of central and western Germany. Poles from Austrian and Russian territories, attracted by the very conditions that repelled those in northeastern Germany, came to take their places in the fields because they faced greater poverty at home. Three interdependent systems of migration developed in these provinces: one with North America, another with Poles from the east, and a third with the provinces of industrializing western Germany.28provide a dramatic example of the changes in the 19th-century countryside that produced responsive migration systems, which themselves altered considerably between 1815 and 1914. , , , , , and were homes to relatively sedentary societies before the 19th century because their people were bound to the soil by the feudal relations with landlords; subsequently the region quickly experienced changes that had been more gradual in the west. As serf-farmers were freed from feudal obligations, Prussian landowners were compensated for their loss of labor from the land and the incomes of their people. Although the land reforms were designed to create an independent peasantry, they created many proletarians as well, and one scholar estimates that in eastern Prussia over 100,000 peasants lost their property.
The industrial cities of western Germany – especially the 29 First, the migrations to the growing towns and cities of the industrial age were surprisingly local – for example, over half the movements within France were within the home département; surprisingly, because long-distance and foreign workers – like the Poles in the mining towns of the Ruhr Valley – were most memorable to contemporaries.30 Not only were many newcomers from a short distance away, but they also came to the city for a temporary stay.– were archetypical of their age: they offered work to thousands of people – and especially to a certain demographic – and grew rapidly, in some cases from very small settlements. For example, , a city of foundry, rolling mill, and tool factory grew from 8,900 inhabitants in 1848 to over 106,700 in 1904.
Second, much early industrial urban work was seasonal – mining metallurgy operated under seasonal constraints, textile mills closed in a dead season, and even dressmaking rose and fell with the fashion season. More important, seasonal work constructed the expanding city. The great booms in city-building that provided housing, commercial spaces, public facilities and urban infrastructures such as sewer systems were based on the summer work of men in the construction trades. Teams of excavators were followed by masons, whose articulate migration systems rendered them most visible. The brickmaking that supplied the cities of the ; brickmaking shadowed the construction season, lasting from April to October.was a specialty of Lippe in western Germany, whose region sent out 14,000 brickmakers annually by the end of the 19th century
Third, many newcomers settled in towns and cities as systems of circular migration became systems of chain migration that drew people out of their home area. For example, the masons of the railroad facilitated family moves. By 1880, there were 2,000 wives and 3,000 single women from the Creuse working as domestic servants in Paris. By 1900, over 24,000 men and women born in the Creuse resided in Paris.31who since the 18th century had spent summers in Paris had expanded their numbers to 30,000 by 1848. With the building boom of the 1850s and 1860s, employment opportunities grew for those who were willing to stay in the city year round. As agricultural work became less attractive, women left the as well, and the
The movements of men and women were in some ways distinct. Women had been the majority of residents in most cities since preindustrial times and women's employment expanded with textile mills, service work, and the garment trade in the 19th century. Does this mean that more women than men moved to cities in this period? Data from a number of different sources allowing a comparison of the flow of migrants – the number of moves – with the stock of migrants – the number of movers – indicates that women were more likely than men to leave home in this era, but that they made fewer moves over their lifetime than their male compatriots. One area was different from another, however, and each type of city grew by a particular rhythm and attracted somewhat distinct groups demographically. Men and women, workers with special skills, singles and family groups were more attracted to some towns than to others. Of course, all the growing cities of France and Germany attracted men and women, families and singles; each city included various occupational groups, from skilled craftsmen and bureaucrats to domestic servants; each city had some manufacturing, some commercial functions, and some administrative offices.
Nonetheless, the pattern of labor demand influenced patterns of urban migration. Since spinning was the first manufacturing function to mechanize and gather workers in large mills, textile cities heralded urban industry. Migration was important to their initial stages of growth because mill towns grew from obscure provincial centers to become major cities. For example, 32on the River was among the most successful: an old textile town of less than 3,800 in 1750 and a rapid innovator of about 16,500 in 1809, by 1910 the city was a major textile producer with a population of over 169,200. The first factory workers on a large scale were those who labored in the mills, many of whom were women and children. Consequently, the majority of migrants in Barmen, and probably other textile cities as well, were women for whom there were mill jobs. The sex ratio of Barmen, like the nearby textile cities of and , was less than 100, indicating that there were fewer than 100 men for every 100 women; as the industry expanded, the sex ratio dropped from 98.9 in 1871 to 92.8 in 1895. And although textile towns had work to offer, men and women came and went with seasonal work fluctuations, construction surges and their own life plans, so the migration rate for the Rhineland textile cities of Barmen, Elberfeld and Krefeld – some of the few towns for which such data exist – rose to .25 around 1900.
Cities of heavy industry – metallurgical centers of foundries, rolling mills, and machine construction – expanded in the wake of industrial development to provide the material for the factories, railroads, and infrastructure construction of the modern age. Like textile centers, the cities of heavy industry grew from villages and small production centers to become large cities, but they tended to mushroom even more quickly than textile towns. For example, Duisburg grew from 8,900 in 1848 to over 106,700 in 1904 – and by 1900, a string of boomtowns in the Ruhr area contained nearly 2 million inhabitants, who produced about half the coal and one-third of the pig iron and steel of the German Empire. This population had increased sevenfold since 1850. Cities of heavy industry, like the coalmining towns that were in many cases nearby, relied on a labor force of young men; this was reflected in the high sex ratios of the Ruhr industrial cities, whose sex ratios peaked at 139 (33, 1871), 120 ( , 1870), and 127 ( , 1871). Like textile cities, those of heavy industry had high rates of turnover as thousands of men and women – but in this case, men more than women – moved to and from the city. During the years from 1880 to 1900, for example, over 232,000 people moved to Bochum, and at least 194,800 departed. The highly male labor force of such cities, the importance of temporary work, and the insecurity of industrial jobs meant that migration rates were probably highest in this sort of urban economy, especially because employers purposefully saw that single men were the last hired and first fired. In fact, the total migration rate for the Ruhr industrial cities was higher than for other towns that of Bochum reached nearly 60 per cent.
Commercial and service functions were essential to the urbanizing economies of the 19th century – and cities primarily devoted to commerce, administration, and services expanded in the century before World War I. However, unlike many industrial cities, these were not new on the horizon; rather, commercial and administrative centers were often centuries old and of substantial size long before the 19th century. As a consequence, they did not experience the same kind of exponential grown as did the industrial cities that sprouted from small towns. 34, for example, served as a center for banking, insurance, and trade in cloth and metal. In 1800, it was the largest city in the zone, with a population of 50,000. That population doubled by mid-century and by 1900 there were 373,000 residents, but Cologne was no longer outstanding in size. Unlike mining and metallurgical centers, these cities housed a majority of women. The sex ratio of Cologne, for example, fell below 100 after 1867 and remained between 99.8 and 96.1 for the rest of the century; the sex ration of Paris was 89 by 1901. Perhaps because there were many women in these cities and because employment may have been slightly less insecure, the extant measures of mobility indicate that administrative cities may have had less in- and out-migration than centers of heavy industry. Cologne's total migration rate remained under 32 per cent, while that of the Ruhr metallurgy centers went up to 50 or 60 per cent in the twenty years before 1900.
Prussian data allow a finely-grained analysis of migration in urbanizing and industrializing Germany that is suggestive for France and other areas. Intimate links between cities and their immediate hinterland bred constant movement back and forth that usually outpaced the much more visible arrivals of foreigners. Different professional groups such as bureaucrats, unskilled young men, and women servants had distinct rhythms of movement. Despite the fact that they were among the great factory cities, the draw of textile cities was largely regional. While high birthrates characterized industrial cities, commercial and administrative cities had lower birthrates because they were populated especially by the pioneers of family limitation (white collar workers) and single domestic servants. The most striking feature of urbanward migration of the industrial age is the high rates of mobility that provided the context for urbanization. We may infer that in the 60 years before World War I especially, Europeans "were not simply urbanites or rural bumpkins, not divided neatly into agriculturalists and industrial workers. Rather, they were part of a regional network of economic opportunities and constraints, a system of shared knowledge and ramifying kinship networks".35
These high rates of mobility would decline in the 20th century, most obviously in response to World War I and the Great Depression of the inter-war period. For all its modernity, the 20th century did not bring rising rates of mobility.36 Thus, although preindustrial mobility was higher than once assumed, and industrial-era mobility was unprecedented, a historical perspective shows that there is no necessary connection between mobility and modernity; the award for high mobility goes to the period of urbanization and industrialization between 1850 and World War I.