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Historical statistics

United States

Historical statistics of the United States: earliest times to the present. Editors in chief, Susan B. Carter ... [et al.]. New York: Cambridge University Press, c2006.
Data and Statistical Services (DSS). Firestone HA202 .H57 2006
The essential starting point for U.S. historical statistics. Covers population, work and welfare, economic structure and performance, economic sectors, and governance and international relations. The introductory essays discuss the data sources and broad trends and are very valuable.

Datapedia of the United States: American history in numbers. Edited by George Thomas Kurian and Barbara A. Chernow. Lanham, MD: Bernan Press, c2007.
Firestone HA202 .K87 2007 AND online via Gale Virtual Reference Library
Gathers together a wide range of data from government sources on demographics; the environment; industry and services; health, social welfare and law enforcement; education, society and leisure; economics; politics and defence. Although the emphasis is on the recent past, there is a substantial amount of data from the 20th century and some from earlier. The introductory essays include brief summaries of recent trends.

Historical statistics of the states of the United States: two centuries of the census, 1790-1990. Compiled by Donald B. Dodd.Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993.
RECAP HA214 .H57 1993 AND
A compilation based on U.S. census data and arranged by state. Includes population, agriculture, and manufacturing, plus population for the 200 largest cities. Useful for understanding changes in state demographics & economics over time.

Historical statistics of Black America. Compiled & edited by Jessie Carney Smith and Carrell Peterson Horton. New York: Gale Research, c1995.
Firestone E185 .H543 1995
Massive 2-volume compilation arranged by topic. Includes a subject index and an index by year. Topics include: agriculture; business and economics; crime, law enforcement, and legal justics; education; family; income, spending and wealth; labor and employement; media; military and military affairs, miscellany; politics and elections; population; professions; religion; slavery and the slave trade; sports and leisure; and vital statistics. Covers 18th c. through 1975, but for many highly specific topics there is data for only one year. (For current data, see also Black Americans: a statistical sourcebook at E185.86 .B52563 -- current volume in the Trustee Reading Room; earlier years in Firestone.)

Nations within a nation: historical statistics of American Indians. Paul Stuart. New York: Greenwood Press, c1987.
RECAP E77 .S924 1987 AND
Slim volume mostly based on U.S. government sources; coverage is best for the 20th century to 1980. Includes statistics for: land, population, removal/relocation, vital statistics and health, U.S. government (Bureau of Indian Affairs) activities, healthcare and education, employment and income, and economic development.

IPUMS: historical census data available to download for statistical software analysis


International historical statistics
Online edition of the three books listed below, updated to 2010. The first place to look for international historical statistics. The are similarly arranged and cover: population and vital statistics, labour force, agriculture, industry, external trade, transport and communication, finance, prices, education, and national accounts.

  • International historical statistics. the Americas 1750-2005. Brian Mitchell. 6th ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.
    Data and Statistical Services (DSS). Firestone HA175 .M55 2007
  • International historical statistics. Europe, 1750-2005. B.R. Mitchell. 6th ed. Basingstoke, Hampshire; New York, N.Y.: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007.
    Data and Statistical Services (DSS). Firestone HA1107 .M5 2007
  • International historical statistics: Africa, Asia & Oceania, 1750-2005. B.R. Mitchell. 5th ed. Basingstoke, Hampshire; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007. Data and Statistical Services (DSS). Firestone HA4675 .M552 2007


The world economy. [Angus Maddison]. Paris, France: Development Centre of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, c2006.
Firestone Library (F) HC21 .M285 2006
The data in this compendium were assembled "to quantify ... long term changes in world income and population" and to study the cases of differences in world development. Both the tables and the accompanying essays are concise and well documented.

State, economy, and society in Western Europe, 1815-1975: a data handbook in two volumes. Peter Flora; and Jens Alber ... [et al.]. Frankfurt am Main: Campus Verlag; Chicago: St. James Press, 1983-1987.
Trustee Reading Room Reference (DR): Firestone HA1107 .F46
This 2-volume set is the result of an effort to collect comparable data on politics and society in modern Western Europe after the Congress of Vienna. Vol. I covers nation states; the practice of democracy; government revenue, expenditure and bureaucracy; and welfare and education. Vol. II covers population and families; urbanization and housing; economic growth; labor and income distributions; and trade unions and strikes. Economic data (below the level of the GNP) is mostly excluded; for this see Mitchell's work above. Check the end of Vol. II for notes about sources, which are not given in the main body of the handbook. This is now being superseded by a new series published by Palgrave Macmillan, "Societies of Europe," which currently includes four volumes (not all of which are available at Princeton) accompanied by data on CDROM:

  • The European population since 1945. Franz Rothenbacher. Houndmills [England] ; New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. Donald E. Stokes Library (SPIA) HB3581.A3 R684 2005
  • The European population, 1850-1945. Franz Rothenbacher. New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2002. Donald E. Stokes Library (SPIA) HB3581.A3 R68 2002

Oxford Latin American Economic History Database (1900-2000)
Statistical series for economic and social indicators covering 20 Latin American countries

East European and Soviet data handbook: political, social, and developmental indicators, 1945-1975. Paul S. Shoup. New York, N.Y.: Columbia University Press; Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution Press, 1981.
Data and Statistical Services (DSS). Firestone Oversize HA1446 .S5q
Sections include population, party membership, national and religious affiliation, education, classes, party leaders, occupations, and developmental indicators/GNP. In English.

Historical statistics of Canada. 2nd ed. F.H. Leacy, editor. [Ottawa]: Statistics Canada, c1983.
RECAP Oversize HA745 .H57 1983q AND
Good coverage for the 20th century; much less material from earlier.

British historical statistics. B.R. Mitchell. Cambridge [Cambridgeshire]; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988.
Firestone Library: Non Circulating (Fnc) HA1134 .M58 1988
Excellent for the 19th & 20th centuries; some data for the 18th and 17th.

Historical statistics of Japan. New edition.
East Asian Library (Gest): Reference Oversize HC462.7 .N475 2006q (covers 1868-1985)

League of Nations & United Nations

For the 20th century, the League of Nations and the United Nations, plus some nongovernmental organizations, are an essential source of international statistical information. See for the start dates of many UN bodies and other international organizations that collect and distribute statistics.

  • Statistical Yearbook of the League of Nations (1926-1944)
  • Statistical yearbook [United Nations]
    Firestone Library (F) Oversize HA41 .U59q (1948-present)
  • Demographic yearbook [United Nations]
    Firestone Library (F) HA41 .U58 (1948-present)