The 1880 U.S. Population database

Ron Goeken, Cuong Nguyen, Steven Ruggles, Walter Sargent

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The 1880 U.S. population database contains records for the over 50 million individuals enumerated in the census. This unique data set is the result of collaboration between the Minnesota Population Center (MPC) and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). To make census data available to genealogists, LDS volunteers transcribed the characteristics of all U.S. residents in 1880. The MPC verified and corrected this transcription, in exchange for the right to disseminate the resulting database for scholarly and educational purposes. The authors consider editing and coding procedures and a range of problems: missing and incorrect geographic identifiers, data-processing errors, duplicate and missing cases, and inaccurate breaks between households. They also classify variables according to standardized coding systems, making the database compatible with the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-34
Number of pages8
JournalHistorical Methods
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
In fall 1999, the MPC obtained funding from the National Science Foundation to improve the data and completed basic cleaning in January 2001. The LDS released the cleaned data on a set of 55 CD-ROMs in June 2001 and unveiled a free national online look-up system for the data in October 2002. This search system constitutes an invaluable source for historical research, but it is not suitable for quantitative analysis. With funding from the National Institutes of Health, the MPC has been working since 2001 to create a numerically coded sequential version of the database that is useful for soqial science research. A preliminary version of this database is now available.'

Funding Information:
efforts to create the 1880 database and their willingness to allow us to make a version available for academic research. We also thank the National Institutes of Health (HD 39327) and the National Science Foundation (SES 9910961) for funding to complete this project.


  • 1880 census
  • Microdata
  • Population


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