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Economics: Economic History

Key Data Sources: United States

Archival Federal Reserve Economic Data (ALFRED).   Historical data on Money, Banking, & Finance, National Accounts, Population, Employment, & Labor Markets, Production & Business Activity, Prices, and more,

EHNet Databases. Wide range of historical data sets from the Economic History Association: global financial data, wages, bond trading, early securities prices, developing country exports, historical labor statistics, and much more.  

Fraser.  Scanned U.S. historical economic statistical publications and other documents. Includes historical runs of the Economic Report of the President, banking and monetary statistics, the Budget of the US Government, Statisics on Income, the Survey of Current Business, and more.

Historical Annual Reports. Includes over 800 companies' annual reports available as searchable pdf images. Includes financial data, Fortune 500 ranking, industry classification, key people, geographic location, and more, from 1844 to present.

Historical Statistics of the United States.  Coverage begins with the colonial and pre-Federal period and goes up to 2000.  Excellent source of information for studying U.S. history, economics, politics, and other topics.

Infogroup United States Historical Business Data. Geocoded records of millions of US businesses with information on each entity, such as contact information, industry, revenues, employees, and other data annually from 1997-2018. Data files are compressed and software such as 7-Zip is required to unzip them. ​The following files for using the data can also be accessed from the link above.

  • Layout Files in Excel and PDF formats.
  • Business Data Compilation (PPT) – InfoGroup slidedeck reviewing data collection practices.
  • Assignment of SIC and NAICS codes (PDF)
  • InfoGroup NAICS to SIC conversion (Excel)

Mergent Archives. Corporate and industry related documents from the Moody's Corporate and Government/Municipal Manuals from 1909 to the present day.

Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS). From the Minnesota Population Center. Microdata for censuses from the United States back to 1850 as well as other nations.  See also the National Historical Geographic Information System, containing tabular U.S. census data and GIS boundary files from 1790 to 2000.

NBER DataEnormous collection of historical data: macroeconomics, history, international trade and finance, healthcare, finance, more.

Statistical Abstracts of the United States. Summary statistics of data collected by US agencies with source notes leading to more detailed data and publications. The Census Bureau has volumes from 1901. The St. Louis Federal Reserve has volumes from 1878 to 1949 via the FRASER database.

Total Economy Database.  From the Conference Board. Annual data covering GDP, population, employment, hours, labor quality, capital services, labor productivity, and total factor productivity for over 120 countries in the world.

Organizations, Search Engines, and Reference Sources

America History & Life. Books and articles in history, including economic history for the United States Canada and Mexico.

Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics. Reprints of articles and books from Cowles foundation faculty at Yale University, from 1943 to present.

Econlit. Most comprehensive database to scholarly journal articles in economics. Also lists books and dissertations, and articles within collective works.

Economic History Association (EH Net). Economics professional association promoting teaching, research, and publications in economic history.

Economist Historical Archive. Complete searchable copy of the Economist since it was first published in 1843 through 2007.  

Financial Times Historical Archive. Complete run of the daily Financial Times from the first issue in 1888 through 2006. 

Making of the Modern World: Goldsmith's Kress Library of Economic Literature. Digital collection of books from 1460-1850 and pre-1906 journals on economics, political science, history, and banking.

Historical Abstracts. Historical database for books and articles on all aspects of world history (excluding US and Canada) from 1450 to present. 

House of Commons Parliamentary Papers. Comprehensive database of British Parliemantary papers and debates from the 18th century to 2004. 

IDEAS. Free database on economics with full-text working papers, books, book chapters, and articles from peer-reviewed journals.

Oxford Encyclopedia of Economic History. International encyclopedia of economic history covering all time periods.

Key Data Sources: International

Archival Federal Reserve Economic Data (ALFRED). "Economic data time travel" from the St. Louis Federal Reserve. Includes a section on International Data.

Cross-National Time-Series. Statistical information on a range of countries, with data entries ranging from 1815 to the present.  

EHNet Databases. Historical data sets from the Economic History Association: global financial data, wages, bond trading, early securities prices, developing country exports, historical labor statistics, and much more.

European State Finance Database.  Collaborative research project for the collection and dissemination of data on European fiscal history across the medieval, early modern & modern periods. NOTE - this is available on the UK Data Archive.  See the entry for their catalog and how to register on this page.

Global Financial Data. Extremely long runs of historical data on U.S. stock prices and macroeconomic data for the U.S. and foreign countries.

Global Commodity Prices Database..  Data lists can be viewed by geographic market, currency, and commodity, and can be queried. Data is from 1260 to 1914.

Global Price and Income History Group. Prices, wages, income, and measures of economic well-being for countries and cities around the world before 1950.   Focuses primarily on the middle ages. 

International Historical Statistics (E-Book Version).. Historical ldata for Asia, Oceania, Africa, the Americas, and Europe, from 1750. The digital equivalent of the three famous Mitchell volumes below.

International Historical Statistics. Africa, Asia and OceaniaB.R. Mitchell. Key economic and social indicators for Africa Asia and Oceania from 1750.   

Historical Housing and Stock Market Data.  From Robert Shiller, Yale University.

Historic Public Debt Database. Comprehensive database from the IMF on gross government debt-to-GDP ratios spanning an exceptionally long time period.

International Historical Statistics: the Americas, 1750-2000. B.R. Mitchell. Key economic and social indicators for the Americas from 1750. 

International Historical Statistics. Europe, 1750-2005. B.R. Mitchell. Key economic and social indicators for European countries from 1750.  

IMF eLibrary. Includes data on exchange and interest rates, balance of payments, government finance, national accounts, aggregate trade, prices, foreign reserves, and more. From the International Monetary Fund (IMF). From 1946 to present. 

Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) International. From the Minnesota Population Center. Micro-data for censuses from the United States back to 1850 as well as other nations.

Jorda-Schularick-Taylor Macrohistory Database.  Covers 17 advanced economies since 1870 annually, comprised 25 real and nominal variables with over 90 percent of advanced-economy output and 50 percent of world output.

League of Nations Statistical Yearbooks. From Northwestern University. Digital League of Nations statistical yearbooks from 1926-1944.  Includes data on population, commerce, public finance, currency, production, prices and more. 

League of Nations Digitised Publications.  From the National Library of Scotland.  Modestly called a "selection of publications" this to my knowledge is the most comprehensive collection of online League of Nations publications currently available.

Maddison Project Database.  Project from colleagues of Angus Maddison to continue his work on measuring long-term economic performance for different regions, time periods and topics. See also theOriginal Maddison Homepage.

Moxlad.  Statistical series for a range of economic and social indicators covering countries in Latin America for the twentieth century and beyond.

NBER Macroeconomic History Data. Covers pre-WWI and interwar economies: production, construction, employment, money, prices, foreign trade, and government activity. Some international coverage.

United Nations Statistical Yearbook.  International country data covering the areas of population, labor supply, agriculture, forestry, construction, consumption, transportation, education and trade from 1946.

Total Economy Database.  From the Conference Board. Annual data covering GDP, population, employment, hours, labor quality, capital services, labor productivity, and total factor productivity for over 120 countries in the world.

The World Economy. Online version of two famous works by Angus Maddison: The World Economy: A Millennial Perspective and The World Economy: Historical Statistics. Estimates of world GDP for the past 2000 years. 

TRADHIST.Historical Bilateral Trade and Gravity Data set with more than 1.9 million bilateral trade observations for the 188 years from 1827 to 2014.  Includes i) bilateral nominal trade flows, ii) country level aggregate nominal exports and imports, iii) nominal GDP, iv) exchange rates, and v) bilateral factors known to favor or hamper trade, including geographical distance, colonial and linguistic links and bilateral tariffs. The dataset is used to estimate the evolution of trade costs over two centuries.

World Trade Historical Database. Annual series of trade by polity from 1800 to 1938 by country, continent and world totals. Cite as: Federico, G. and Tena-Junguito A. (2019): World trade, 1800-1938: a new synthesis. Revista de Historia Economica: Journal of Iberian and Latin America Economic History.  Vol 37, n.1.

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