Reviews for Historical Statistics of the United States : Earliest Times To The Present: Millennial Edition


Booklist Reviews 2006 September #2
/*Starred Review*/ It has been more than 30 years since the Bureau of the Census published an edition of Historical Statistics of the United States. Previous editions were published by the Census Bureau in 1949, 1960, and 1975. The Millennial Edition has been outsourced to Cambridge University Press but authorized by the government. The size of this statistical source has increased from two volumes to five, with more than 37,000 data series. In June Cambridge brought out an online edition. (The 1975 edition had an accompanying CD-ROM.) The project was funded by more than 50 private and public sources, including Colgate University, the British Library, and Rockefeller Center.The five volumes or parts are arranged by broad topics: Population Work and Welfare, Economic Structure and Performance, Economic Sectors, and Governance and International Relations. Within each part, chapters have a letter code, and statistical tables are assigned an alphanumeric identifier indicating the chapter in which they are located and the range of series they contain. For example, Ed1-5 is the code for "Military Personnel and Casualties, by War and Branch of Service: 1775-1991," located in chapter Ed ("National Defense, Wars, Armed Forces, and Veterans") in part E (or volume 5). Page numbers are used in the table of contents and the index. Sources for tables are carefully noted and include journals, monographs, and scholars' research for dissertations as well as government publications. Detailed documentation is provided as well. Many topics were "enhanced," and new ones have been added, among them "Poverty," "Slavery," "Confederate States of America," and "Race and Ethnicity." Statistics have been updated to include the 2000 census. Each volume and chapter is preceded by an essay or essays providing an overview of the subject and the trends that have been noted by scholars in the field. Tables, graphs, and extensive bibliographies are a major part of the essays. Several essays have tables listing important events in the history of the topic. What can one easily find in this major compendium by using the excellent index or browsing? Attendance at horse racing in 1997 was about half of what it was in 1976. Voter turnout in presidential elections in the U.S. was at a high in 1860, with 81.2 percent voting, and at one of the lowest percentages in 2000, with 49.3 percent. When the reviewer's great-grandfather emigrated in the late nineteenth century, he was one of 36,000 arriving from Sweden. In 1894 he was one of 958 men killed in coal mining accidents. In the "Health" chapter, one can discover that the incidence of cataracts in the elderly has stayed fairly constant from 1982 to 1995, while the number of people under 18 who have asthma almost doubled in the same period. Among the statistics that one might not expect to find is the number of American Nobel Prize winners by field and country of birth. This is followed by a table of commercial space launches by country.French semiologist Jean Baudrillard said, "Like dreams, statistics are a form of wish fulfillment." All those who enjoys statistics will have their dreams fulfilled by browsing through Historical Statistics of the United States. ((Reviewed September 15, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews

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Choice Reviews 2006 August
Thirty years worth of data, representing the phenomenal explosion of qualitative scholarship since publication of the bicentennial edition, as well as expanded and revised entries, have been added to this standard history reference for quantitative information. Although production of an updated edition was not a priority for the US Census Bureau, it authorized this edition, which represents the collaboration of over 80 scholars. Chapters are subdivided within each of the five volumes. In volume 2, Work and Welfare, for example, categories include labor; slavery; education; health; economic inequality and poverty; social insurance and public assistance; and nonprofit, voluntary, and religious entities. More than a dozen new subject areas--including American Indians, poverty, slavery, race, and ethnicity--increase the millennial edition's relevance to the diverse interests of today's scholars.

Each chapter includes an introductory essay about the quantitative history of the subject as well as a guide to the sources. The three appendixes are "Weights, Measurements, and Monetary Values," "States and Census Regions," and "Origin of Historical Statistics of the United States." Data included from previous editions are not identified as such. Also, data series from previous editions were revised in this edition. The editors suggest that researchers use this edition's data rather than that of previous editions, which may be unreliable or obsolescent. Further, data series do not indicate end dates, but reflect the most current information available at the time of compilation. This resource is available electronically via Cambridge University Press, with data accessible for charting, statistical analysis, and regrouping across tables. The malleability of data in electronic form promises to enhance the efforts of scholars and students. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-level undergraduates and above. Copyright 2006 American Library Association.

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Library Journal Reviews 2006 June #1

This monumental, topically organized work is the result of an 11-year-long effort by 80-plus scholars who not only provided data and analysis--culled from more than 1000 sources--but also raised the funds for publication after the former publisher, the U.S. Census Bureau, announced that it was unable to do so in the foreseeable future. Data from previous editions have been revised or eliminated where the original source proved unreliable or obsolete, and holes in the existing historical record have been filled wherever possible. More than a dozen new sections have also been added on such topics as American Indians, slavery, and the Confederate states. The title has grown from two volumes to five and now covers the broad areas of population, work and welfare, economic structure and performance, economic sectors, and governance and international relations. Each of the 39 chapters begins with an essay on the "quantitative history" of the topic and comments on the reliability of the data and possible limits to interpretation. Included are approximately 1900 tables and 170 maps, graphs, and time lines; the text is fully cross-referenced and indexed. Bottom Line This ultimate statistical source on numerical U.S. history has been 30 years overdue for an overhaul; now, finally, the best is even better. A bargain for all libraries supporting research; essential particularly where the original statistical sources from which the title draws are out of print. [Available in print, online, and in print with online packages (bundle versions).--Ed.]--Nadine Cohen, Univ. of Georgia, Athens

[Page 158]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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