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   Issue 27, Spring 2017

Print shows the harbor in Boston, Massachusetts, two ships at anchor, British soldiers and men working, merchandise on shore; an idealized view depicting Boston as a typical European city.


This section is predominantly devoted to sources that provide statistical data and numbers on the Colonies and colonial activities.

A particular focus is trade information because of its importance. Very general export information covering 1697-1789 was published in 1884 by Charles Evans in Exports, Domestic and Foreign, from the American Colonies to Great Britain, from 1697 to 1790, inclusive and reprinted in several other places. However, it only includes the total exports and by colonies for New England, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Maryland, Carolina, Georgia. For those researchers who want more detail this section should be able to help. Some of the detailed trade information found in the records below was derived in part from Colonial Office materials so information on this topic may be found in those sources as well as in the Adam Matthew subscription database Colonial America; the latter is available only onsite at the Library of Congress or through another subscribing institution.

BERA - Business & Economics Research Advisor - A Quarterly Guide to Business & Economics Topics

Issue 27: Spring 2017

The Colonies in America: Commerce, Business, and the Economy

Table of Contents

General History
The Local Perspective
Trade & Mercantilism    New resource
   Atlantic Slave Trade   New resource
Money, Prices, & Banking   New resource
Statistics & Data
Internet Sources & Map Collections
LC Subject Headings

Caption (image left):
Vuë de Boston. Prospect von Boston gegen der Bucht am Hasen Vuë de Boston vers le Cale du Port.
Habermann, Franz Xaver, 1721-1796.
Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

American Colonial Wealth Estimates, 1774 External Link

This data comes from Alice Hanson Jones and her book Wealth of a Nation to Be : The American Colonies on the Eve of the Revolution and presents data on 919 decedents having resided in 21 colonial counties in both rural and urban settings collected from probate records in the New England colonies, the Middle Colonies, New York, and the South. It is part of the ICPSR project at the University of Michigan.

Angus Maddison Project External Link

Angus Maddison was a scholar of quantitative macroeconomic history, including the measurement and analysis of economic growth and development at University of Groningen. This project was initiated in March 2010 to support an effective way of cooperation between scholars to continue Maddison's work on measuring economic performance for different regions, time periods and subtopics. It includes Maddison’s original dataset which is kept intact, and only revised or adjusted when there is more and better information available. Much of the data is GDP and economic growth related.

Cole, Arthur Harrison. Wholesale Commodity Prices in the United States, 1700-1861. Published under the auspices of the International Scientific Committee on Price History. Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University, 1938.
LC Call Number: HB235.u6 C56
LC Catalog Record: 38008363

This is a two volume set where Volume One is mostly analysis with some graphs and Volume Two is the statistical supplement. Most of the data and analysis is by place, and is not a general aggregate. It is presented as monthly data, by year with the commodities and then by city.

Greene, Evarts Boutell. American Population Before the Federal Census of 1790, by Evarts B. Greene ... and Virginia D. Harrington. New York, Columbia University Press, 1932.
LC Call Number: HB3505.G7
LC Catalog Record: 33000718

This volume covers the time period before the Revolution and is mostly presented by location: general overview, Plymouth, a chapter per state, northwest (Illinois Country), southwest (Kentucky, Tennessee), Western Indians (northern department, southern department).

McCusker, John J. Money and Exchange in Europe and America, 1600-1775: A Handbook. Chapel Hill, N.C. : Published for the Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, Va., by the University of North Carolina Press, c1978.
LC Call Number: HG219 .M33
LC Catalog Record: 76054774

This title is predominantly devoted to tables of prices and rates of exchange.

Mitchell, B. R. (Brian R.). British Historical Statistics. Cambridge [Cambridgeshire] ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1988.
LC Call Number: HA1134 .M58 1988
LC Catalog Record: 86024513

This title has a wide array of historical statistics in all areas and time periods but can also be used to find where other and more detailed statistics can be found.

Moreau, César. State of the Trade of Great Britain with all Parts of the World ... London, Treuttell, Wurtz, Treuttel, jun., and Richter [1824]
LC Call Number: HF3501 .M83
LC Catalog Record: 06026985

This was cited in Mitchell's British Historical Statistics and is a single large chart covering the years 1697-1823. Along the top are the places – including "All Parts of America" which is then divided into different parts of the Americas. For the U.S. there are export and import numbers. A digitized version is available in the database Making of the Modern World, Part I - Goldsmiths-Kress Collection, a subscription database available to onsite patrons only.

Schumpeter, Elizabeth Boody. English Overseas Trade Statistics, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1960 [i. e. 1961]
LC Call Number: HF3501 .S35
LC Catalog Record: 61001155

The bulk of this title is charts. There are tables that include a geographical division (by commodity) that includes America (written as United States) but that data does not begin until 1700.

United States. Bureau of the Census. Historical Statistics of the United States, Colonial Times to 1970. Bicentennial ed. Washington : U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of the Census : for sale by the Supt. of Docs., U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1975.
LC Call Number: HA202 .B87 1975
LC Catalog Record: 75038832
Available online from Census Bureau

There is a wealth of statistics covering all time periods of the United States but the Colonial period is primarily limited to Chapter Z (although useful statistics from this period may also appear in other parts). Census does have previous editions of a similar nature - one that covers 1789–1945 and the other that covers Colonial Times to 1957 that are digitized and available on their web site. This publication has been updated by the database Historical Statistics of the United States Millennial Edition which is also available in print. The Colonial statistics are predominantly in volume 5 though useful statistics from this period may be found throughout. Access to the database is limited to onsite researchers, check your local or university library for availability. The sources used to compile the tables included in this publication and the written discussion about topics can be very helpful for researchers in locating more detailed information.

Whitworth, Charles, Sir. State of the Trade of Great Britain in its Imports and Exports ... 1697 [to 1773] also of the trade to each particular country, during the above period, distinguishing each year ... By Sir Charles Whitworth ... London, G. Robinson [etc.] 1776.
LC Call Number: HF3501 .W62
LC Catalog Record: 06016322

Unlike the Moreau title that also starts at the same time, this is a book of over 200 pages. It does include charts but it is more than just that. A digitized version is available in the database Making of the Modern World, Part I - Goldsmiths-Kress Collection, a subscription database available to onsite patrons only.

Wholesale Prices for 213 Years, 1720 to 1932. Ithaca, N.Y. : Cornell University, 1932.
LC Call Number: S95 .E325 no. 142
LC Catalog Record: a33001269

This memoir (#142) was published as part of the New York Agriculture Experiment Station at Cornell. It comes in two parts – Part 1 covers 135 years (1797-1932) by G.F. Warren and F.A. Pearson and part 2 covers New York City (1790-1800) by Herman M. Stoker. Both parts contain analysis, graphs, and charts.

Last updated: 02/20/2018

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