Historical Labor Statistics Project (HLSP)


1. What Is the Historical Labor Statistics Project?
2. Suggested Citation
3. Disclaimer
4. Acknowledgments

1. What Is the Historical Labor Statistics Project?

The Historical Labor Statistics Project (HLSP) was established in August 1990. This effort is supported by the All-University of California Group in Economic History, the National Science Foundation, the Institute of Business and Economic Research in Berkeley, and the Laboratory for Historical Research in Riverside.

The HLSP’s first objective is to collect in machine-readable format detailed data on American labor markets selected from over 150 separate investigations undertaken between 1874 and 1920 by the Bureaus of Labor Statistics established by the governments of 29 states. To date we have collected, coded, documented, and distributed 36 data sets. Thirty-five of the data sets are cross-sectional surveys of workers with information on working conditions, living standards, family demography, and household economy. One data set contains two cross-sectional surveys of firms. For a description of the Historical Labor Statistics Project and an overview of the nature of the data contained in these data sets see:

Susan B. Carter, Roger L. Ransom, and Richard Sutch, “The Historical Labor Statistics Project at the University of California,” Historical Methods 24 [Spring 1991]: 52-65.

We also suggest that you examine the original state labor bureau report for the data set in which you are interested. Microform reproductions of these reports are available through the interlibrary loan office of any research library. Each data set presented here is a one-hundred percent reproduction of the original.

2. Suggested Citation

We are providing these data sets free of charge. In exchange, we ask that you respect the following requests:

[1] In order to evaluate the impact of our project, we need to know who uses which data sets. To help us to trace the users, please provide accurate information when you write to for the password.

[2] Any use of the data in published reports or working papers should appropriately acknowledge the University of California Historical Labor Statistics Project and cite the relevant Codebook in its list of references.

[3] We ask that you promptly inform us of any errors or ambiguities uncovered in the process of working with the data. Only if we receive such feedback can we quickly purge the data files of errors and update them on timely basis.

[4] We would appreciate receiving copies of all research memorandums, term papers, working papers, and submitted manuscripts that use or refer to the HLSP data. Not only will this enable us to track usage and to inform others of your work, but we can also alert you to any errors detected or changes in the data. We can also inform you of the work of others on related topics.

[5] Please do not pass the data sets on to others without notifying us. We are, of course, very happy to supply any new users with the data directly, and free of charge.

3. Disclaimer

We have made every effort to check the accuracy of our data entry and documentation, but we cannot ensure that our product is error-free. HLSP assumes no responsibility for the accuracy of the data sets and codebooks. We strongly recommend that users obtain the original survey report publications and check our coded data for themselves. These publications may be obtained through the inter-library loan office of most research libraries.

4. Acknowledgements

The Historical Labor Statistics Project is sponsored by the National Science Foundation; the All-University of California Group in Economic History; and the Institute of Business and Economic Research and the Laboratory for Historical Research, both of the University of California. We would like to thank the Cliometric Society, housed at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, for technical assistance and for providing disk space in its gopher and ftp sites.

Comments and questions may be sent to Richard Sutch at

Susan B. Carter
Roger L. Ransom
Richard Sutch
Hongcheng Zhao