The Imperiia Project: a spatial history of the Russian Empire

Explore a bit of fire data

The Central Statistical Committee compiled fire data from two distinct but closely related sources: biweekly reports submitted by provincial governors, and annual summaries compiled by those same provincial governors. The biweekly reports were supposed to include the exact days of each incident, along with the location, cause, number of homes or other buildings burned, and the value of lost property (calculated in rubles) in both town lands and districts.  

The Committee found, however, that there were "gaps" and inconsistencies in the reports. The annual summaries often contained different information than what had been submitted in the incremental reports. They tended to offer more detail about cause and value of lost property (neither of which was easy to establish within days of the fire), though it was universally unclear what was included in the tally of burned buildings: some governors included only complete losses, while others described damaged property as well.

In other words, there are many reasons to take the 1865 volume with a grain of salt. The beautifully laid-out tables give us only a rough sense of what burned, when, and where. You won't find many answers in them - or in the maps we made of them - but you will find that they produce an endless list of questions.

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