is owned and operated by the Economic History Association
with the support of other sponsoring organizations.

Greenback Series

The columns are:

  1. observation number
  2. date in format YYMMDD, so January 2, 1986 is 620102
  3. day of the week code, with 1=Monday, 2=Tuesday, etc
  4. the high price for gold on that day
  5. the low price for gold on that day

(4) and (5) are quoted as the number of gold cents needed to buy one Greenback dollar.

The data were used in two studies of the Greenback. The citations are:

Willard, Kristen L., Timothy W. Guinnane, and Harvey S. Rosen, 1996. “Turning Points
in the Civil War: Views from the Greenback Market.” American Economic Review

Timothy W. Guinnane, Kristen L. Willard, and Harvey S. Rosen, 1995. “Messages from
the Den of Wild Beasts’: Greenback Prices as Commentary on the Union’s Prospects.”
Civil War History XLI(4): 313-328.

We did not collect the data in the usual sense; we simply copied it from the tables in:

Mitchell, Wesley C., 1903. A history of the Greenbacks. Chicago: University of Chicago

That is, our only contribution here is to provide the labor of coding the data. Before using the
data we recommend reading Mitchell’s book to understand the various sources he used to
compile the tables.

Contact person: Professor Harvey Rosen, Department of Economics, Princeton University,
Princeton NJ 08544. Email:

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