No. 47.
Mr. de Bounder de Melsbroeck to Mr. Bayard


Mr. Secretary of State: Since the last general census of the population of Belgium, which was made on the 31st day of December, 1880, various foreign governments have expressed a desire to be furnished with a list of such of their citizens or subjects (nationaux) as were residents of Belgium at that time. According to the law of May 25,1880, a census of the population of the kingdom is to be taken every ten years, in such a way that ten censuses shall be taken during each century of the Christian era. The date of the next census will consequently be December 31, 1890. My Government thinks that it might be well in the interest of families and of certain executive departments for arrangements to be made between Belgium and those States which take a census of their population periodically, providing for an exchange of those of their census reports which relate to natives of their respective countries. The result of such an exchange would be, mainly, the facilitation, to a great extent, of the numerous inquiries which are daily made, both by private individuals and public authorities, concerning the fate of absent persons; it would, moreover, aid in the execution of the laws which govern the military service, in the preparation of statistics with regard to the population de jure, and in the making of the long searches which are so frequently rendered necessary by marriages, the division of estates, the collection of taxes, etc.

I am instructed to inquire of your excellency whether the United States Government feels disposed to conclude a convention to govern in future, the exchange in question, Tour excellency will find herewith [Page 50] inclosed two of the cards which were used in collecting information concerning each person entered in the census of Belgium, of December 31, 1880. The place of birth was to be stated therein, and not the nationality. The Government of the King can not now say positively whether any change will be made in the text of these cards for the census of 1890, especially as regards mention of the nationality of the persons entered. It would consequently be glad to know whether the United States census reports mention the nationality as well as the birthplace of those entered.

I avail myself, etc.

Th. de Bounder de Melsbroeck.