Sunday, August 16, 2009

Thank you Census Bureau!

As a historian of nineteenth century America I have often used census records. Yes, there are problems with these records. Not everyone was enumerated, some of the census enumerators had terrible handwriting, some documents were damaged or destroyed, and so on. For the most part, though, census records provide a fabulous “snapshot” of the United States at ten year intervals. Although many people are quite familiar with census records, many researchers do not seem to know about the summary volumes that the Census Bureau created. In these volumes employees tabulated and summarized the information collected by the enumerators. A great deal of valuable demographic data is contained in these volumes; I shudder to think what it was like to summarize this information without the benefit of computers. The Census Bureau has scanned many of these volumes and placed them online for your free perusal. Recently I looked at one of these volumes, Population of the United States in 1860: Compiled from the Original Returns of the Eighth Census, and pulled out some population information relating to Trans-Mississippi states and territories on the eve of the Civil War. The first set of statistics is data relating to the states, and the second set of statistics is data relating to the territories. I had technical difficulties in posting tables so have included the data in non-tabular form. The abbreviations have the following meanings:

W=White population

FB= Free Black population

S= Slave population

CI = “Civilized Indian” population

INE= Indian population not enumerated. This consists of estimates by the Census Bureau of Indians that “retain[ed] their tribal character.” I have not included these estimates in the total population counts since they are only approximations.

T=total population

For those who are curious the information found in the data sets is from pages xv, 598-599, and 605 of the volume listed above.

By the way, thanks to all of you who have contributed their comments to this blog so far!!

Arkansas, 324,143 (W), 144 (FB), 111,115 (S), 48 (CI), 435,450 (T)

California, 358,110 (W), 4,086 (FB), 17,798 (CI), (13,540-INE), 379,994 (T)

Iowa, 673,779 (W), 1,069 (FB), 65 (CI), 674,913 (T)

Kansas, 106,390 (W), 625 (FB), 2 (S), 189 (CI), (8,189-INE), 107,206 (T)

Louisiana, 357,456 (W), 18,647 (FB), 331,726 (S), 173 (CI), 708,002 (T)

Minnesota, 169,395 (W), 259 (FB), 2,369 (CI), (17,900-INE), 172,023 (T)

Missouri, 1,063,489 (W), 3,572 (FB), 114,931 (S), 20 (CI), 1,182,012 (T)

Oregon, 52, 160 (W), 128 (FB), 177 (CI), (7,000-INE), 52,465 (T)

Texas, 420,891 (W), 355 (FB), 182,566 (S), 403 (CI), 604,215 (T)

Grand Total for states, 3,525,813 (W), 28,885 (FB), 740,340 (S), 21, 242 (CI),

(46,629-INE), 4,316,280 (T)

Colorado, 34,231 (W), 46 (FB), (6,000-INE), 34,277 (T)

Dakota, 2,576 (W), 2,261 (CI), (39,664-INE), 4,837 (T)

“West of Arkansas” [Indian], 7,369 (S), (65,680-INE), 7,369 (T)

Nebraska, 28,696 (W), 67 (FB), 15 (S), 63 (CI), (5072-INE), 28,841 (T)

Nevada, 6,812 (W), 45 (FB), (7,550-INE), 6,857 (T)

New Mexico, 82,924 (W), 85 (FB), 10,507 (CI), (55,100-INE), 93,516 (T)

Utah, 40,125 (W), 30 (FB), 29 (S), 89 (CI), (20,000-INE), 40,273 (T)

Washington, 11,138 (W), 30 (FB), 426 (CI), (31,000-INE), 11,594 (T)

Grand Total for territories, 206,502 (W), 303 (FB), 7,413 (S), 13,346 (CI), (295,746-INE), 227,564 (T)

1 comment:

  1. The Census site is indeed a treasure. I've been researching Southern textile production for some years and found both the Agriculture Census and the Manufacture Census to be great sources. The Agriculture Census includes a category of "home manufactures" which is usually acknowledged as being largely textiles. The Manufacture Census has all of the textile and yarn/thread mills in 1860, plus great commentary. I used this information, plus the University of Virginia census site, to determine amount of home manufactures per resident, for each 1860 county in the South, then plotted it to a map on the basis of being at least 4x the national average. I also located all of the Southern textile mills, cotton and woolen, and plotted them. Then, for good measure, plotted out all of the place names with either "copperas" or "alum" (the two main dye mordants) in the name. Then I wondered how in the world the Confederacy hoped to keep everyone, black and white, rich and poor, clothed once the blockade became effective.

    Do you use the census in your university classes? If so, how? I teach a one-shot library resources class session for our history research methods class, and I'm always looking for better ways to present information. As it is, with usually no overall focus to the class it becomes rather scatter shot.

    Vicki Betts