Height and its variations in time are considered useful indicators of living conditions in countries and in periods where no written sources are available. Majority of data refer to male stature, whereas data concerning female stature are limited and cover only a short span. This paper investigates the height of 456 women in 6 African countries, born around the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. The objective is to provide information on the stature of females from those areas at that time and to compare the results with those from the literature, which refer to more recent times. Data were recovered from original individual forms and/or monographs of the time, and when possible, changes in mean statures were reported, considering two age classes: 20.0–29.9 years and 30.0 years and over. Individual heights were plotted according to year of birth. The main results show tendencies toward height increases in Eritrea and Ethiopia, stable values of stature in Somalia and decreasing heights in women mainly from the oases in Cyrenaica. It has been suggested that these results may reflect the synergic action, with different local modes and intensity, of a changing model of slavery in force at the time, lack of constituted states and continuing civil wars among different ethnic groups, and of an effect of severe droughts in the period under consideration. A comparison with data available on modern populations from 4 of the investigated countries shows that this trend has since changed. Further insights into this suggested trend may be gained from the study of male series.

Women's height in several African countries in the first half of the 20th century

Danubio ME
;
Masedu F
Formal Analysis
2018-01-01

Abstract

Height and its variations in time are considered useful indicators of living conditions in countries and in periods where no written sources are available. Majority of data refer to male stature, whereas data concerning female stature are limited and cover only a short span. This paper investigates the height of 456 women in 6 African countries, born around the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. The objective is to provide information on the stature of females from those areas at that time and to compare the results with those from the literature, which refer to more recent times. Data were recovered from original individual forms and/or monographs of the time, and when possible, changes in mean statures were reported, considering two age classes: 20.0–29.9 years and 30.0 years and over. Individual heights were plotted according to year of birth. The main results show tendencies toward height increases in Eritrea and Ethiopia, stable values of stature in Somalia and decreasing heights in women mainly from the oases in Cyrenaica. It has been suggested that these results may reflect the synergic action, with different local modes and intensity, of a changing model of slavery in force at the time, lack of constituted states and continuing civil wars among different ethnic groups, and of an effect of severe droughts in the period under consideration. A comparison with data available on modern populations from 4 of the investigated countries shows that this trend has since changed. Further insights into this suggested trend may be gained from the study of male series.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11697/127907
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