Having recently read Eugen Weber’s Peasants Into Frenchmen for a French history course I am taking at university, I have begun to realise just how much of France’s recent history has been defined by sudden and dramatic urbanisation. I wanted to illustrate the transition from an agricultural society of rural peasants to the modern France of huge cities like Paris and Lyon.
I downloaded a database of historical census results from the Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques website and played around with the CVS file until I could get it to merge with a shapefile from Open Street Map. In QGIS, I created several maps of every year the database recorded, exporting them as PNG’s with a transparent background to be added to a template I made in Illustrator, where I added a scale, key, and title to each of them. I was left with 23 maps that, in Photoshop, I stitched together to make a gif. I also made a large poster using some of these 23 maps that I think also illustrates this crucial period in French demographic history.
Stylistically, I opted for a clean colour scheme which emphasised major population centres by illuminating them over a black background. The typefaces used in this map are Cinque Donne and Lato.
‘Historique des populations communales’, Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (2019), <https://www.insee.fr/fr/statistiques/3698339> [accessed 24 December 2020]
OpenStreetMap Contributors, ‘Découpage administratif communal français issu d'OpenStreetMap’, data.gouv.fr (2020) <https://www.data.gouv.fr/en/datasets/r/a01aff2a-8f36-4a77-a73f-efc212fe2899> [accessed 28 December 2020]

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