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Historical Statistics

Historical Statistics

1. Why do we have statistics?

2. How we are defining historical

•  Pre-United Nations

3. Tips

•  Most historical statistics do not exist electronically and pre-1960 there is virtually no machine-readable data..

•  What is collected today may not have been collected in the past

•  Many common economic concepts of today did not emerge until around WWII

•  Know your geography over time.

Hellmann, Paul T. Historical Gazetteer of the United States. New York: Routledge, 2005.
(DR) E154.H45 2005

Munro, David. Cambridge World Gazetteer: A Geographical Dictionary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988.
G103.5.C42 1990

3. Predecessors to the League of Nations

4. League of Nations

5. Modern International Organization Start dates

(In some cases dates are for the predecessor)

United Nations and its Parts  

United Nations and its Parts
United Nations 1945
Economic Commission for Europe 1947
Economic & Social Commission for Asia & the Pacific 1947
Economic Commission for Latin America & the Caribbean 1948
Economic Commission for Africa 1958
Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia 1974
UNDP 1965
United Nations Environment Programme 1972


Specialized Agencies of the United Nations
International Telecommunications Union 1865
International Labour Organization 1919
Food and Agriculture Organization 1945
World Bank 1945
International Monetary Fund 1945
World Health Organization 1948
International Development Association 1960
United Nations Industrial Development Organization 1967


Select Other Major Intergovernmental Organizations providing Statistics:
Bank for International Settlements 1930
League of Arab States 1945
Organization of American States 1948 ( International Union of American Republics 1890)
OECD 1961 ( Organisation for European Economic Cooperation 1948)
European Union 1951
International Organization for Migration 1951
Inter-American Development Bank 1959
OPEC 1960
African Development Bank 1964
Asian Development Bank 1966
ASEAN 1967
ANDEAN Community of Nations 1969
Islamic Development Bank 1973
Economic Community of West African States 1975
Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation 1989
World Trade Organization 1995 (GATT 1948)

6. Sources to get you started

Banks Cross National Time Series
Select data back to 1815; covers economic, social, and political indicators; superb source for political economy

Mitchell, B.R. International Historical Statistics: Africa, Asia, and Oceania , 1750-2010.

Mitchell, B.R. International Historical Statistics: The Americas , 1750-2010.

Mitchell, B.R. International Historical Statistics: Europe , 1750-2010.

Historical Statistics of Canada . Ottawa : Statistics Canada , 1983.

Kurian, George Thomas. Datapedia of the United States , 1790-2005. America year by year . 4th ed. Lanham , MD : Bernan Press, 2007.

Historical statistics of the United States : earliest times to the present.
This 5 volume set which is also available electronically contains thousands of statistical series on subjects ranging from population and land area to production figures for crops and manufactured products. Coverage begins with the colonial and pre-Federal period and goes up to 2000. Detailed documentation provides brief histories of the statistical series and source materials.
HA202.H57 (DSS and Stokes Library Reference)

Dodd, Donald B. Historical Statistics of the States of the United States: Two Centuries of The Census, 1790-1990. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1993.

Proquest Congressional
Best starting point for Congressional documentary research. Full text publications of the U.S. Congress such as hearings (including previously unpublished hearings), committee reports, documents and prints (1824+); Congressional Research Service reports (1916+), Bills & Laws (1789+), the U.S. Serial Set (1789+), the Congressional Record and its predecessors (Annals of Congress, Register of Debates, and Congressional Globe; 1789+).

Includes the  House of Commons Parliamentary Papers from 1715 to the present, with supplementary material back to 1688 and the House of Lords Papers from 1715-1910. Includes searchable full text and subject indexing. The Parliamentary Papers are an essential primary source for Britain, its colonies, and the wider world. They are the working documents of government for all areas of social, political, economic, and foreign policy.

 Statistical yearbook collections (paper and fiche)
Current editions in DSS; Fiche collection from CIS in Microforms; Fiche collections for historic in Microforms and cataloged individually in the Main Catalog (for historic we do not have complete in microfiche; we have gap fillers)

Official Publications of Foreign Countries. [Chicago, IL]: Government Documents Roundtable, American Library Association. 1997.
(DR; Stokes) Z7164.G7 G83 1997

7. Macroeconomic Indicators, Financial Indicators, Trade, and Commodities

•  Economic Statistics

•  Financial Data

•  League of Nations Guide

•  Global Financial Data Data on bonds, commodities, interest rates, stock markets and indices, futures, exchange rates, GDP, prices, and unemployment. World exchange rates back to 1624, inflation rates back to 1748, and wholesale prices back to 1720. Major commodities going back to 1784. Some annual series go back to the 1200s. Methodology and sources are documented. The Stock market indices go back to 1693. Also included are data on stock market capitalization, dividend yields, price/earnings ratios, total return performance indices, and Global Financial Data's World Stock Market Indices. Real Estate data back to 1830.

•  Economic History Services (

•  How much is that?

•  Bidwell, R. L. Currency Conversion Tables: A Hundred Years of Change. London : Rex Collings, 1970.
(DR) HG219.B5

•  Derks, Scott. The Value of a Dollar: Prices and Incomes in the United States 1860-2014. Amenia, N.Y. : Grey House Pub., c2014.

•  Derks, Scott and Tony Smith. The Value of a Dollar: Colonial Era to the Civil War 1600-1865. Millerton, NY: Grey House Publishing, 2005.

•  Newman, Oksana and Allan Foster. The Value of a Pound: Prices and Incomes in Britain 1900-1993. New York : Gale Research, 1995.
(DSS) HB235.G7 V348 1995

•  Maddison, Angus. The World Economy: Volume 1: A Millennial Perspective and Volume 2: Historical Statistics . Paris : Development Centre of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, 2001-2003.

•  Warren, George. Wholesale Prices for 213 Years: 1790-1932. Ithaca : NY: Cornell University , 1932.
(DSS) HB235.U5 W2

•  Trade Statistics

(Library of Congress Subject Heading for trade is commerce; however statistics are often under the actual industry name. Imports or Exports also often used).

.•  MEMDB: Medieval and Early Modern Data Bank MEMDB: Medieval and Early Modern Data Bank contains databases providing select commodity prices from the Medieval Ages.

Bobray Bordelon and Susan White

Updated  4/12/2019