Historical Statistics

Statistics provide ways to analyze historical periods based on characteristics of the population.


Key Resources

  • Census of Population and Housing Special Collections
    This web site collects digitized versions of the special reports and censuses from the Census Bureau (most are from the early 20th century).
  • Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970
    This two volume book compiles statistics from colonial times to the present.
  • Historical Vital Statistics of the United States
    The term 'vital statistics' refers to data on the four major vital events of an individual's life, birth, death marriage and divorce. County courthouses around the country are the source of accurate and standardized statistics. The first published vital statistics were part of the decennial censuses of 1850 through 1890. Around the turn of the 19th century, this data began to be collected and published by the Bureau of Health (in the Dept. of Interior) and later by the National Center for Health Statistics.
  • Statistical Abstract of the United States, older editions
    Statistical Abstracts provides basic educational statistics for the national and state level. The strength of this website is in the historical range of data, from 1878 to present.
  • Historical Census Browser (University of Virginia)
    Includes state and county level census data from 1790 through 1960. The available data differ somewhat from decade to decade, according to what was collected in the census. For the early decades, most of the enumerated items are included. For later decades, only a portion of characteristics are included. No information is available below the county level, and only states are included (no information on western territories before statehood, or for the District of Columbia). In addition to basic counts of population and housing units, all decades contain information on race, gender, and some measure of household size and composition. Beginning with 1840, some economic characteristics such as education and occupation are included. Later decades have many variables, including ancestry, literacy, and income variables.

Resources Exercises