National Archive of Criminal Justice Data

This dataset is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), the criminal justice archive within ICPSR. NACJD is primarily sponsored by three agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Executions in the United States, 1608-1991: The Espy File [Instructional Materials] (ICPSR 3465)

Principal Investigator(s): Oberly, James W., University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Department of History


These instructional materials were prepared for use with EXECUTIONS IN THE UNITED STATES, 1608-1991: THE ESPY FILE (ICPSR 8451), compiled by M. Watt Espy and John Ortiz Smykla. The data file (an SPSS portable file) and accompanying documentation are provided to assist educators in instructing students about the history of capital punishment in the United States. An instructor's handout is also included. This handout contains the following sections, among others: (1) general goals for student analysis of quantitative datasets, (2) specific goals in studying this dataset, (3) suggested appropriate courses for use of the dataset, (4) tips for using the dataset, and (5) related secondary source readings. This dataset furnishes data on executions performed under civil authority in the United States between 1608 and April 24, 1991, and describes each individual executed and the circumstances surrounding the crime for which the person was convicted. Variables include age, race, name, sex, and occupation of the offender, place, jurisdiction, date, and method of execution, and the crime for which the offender was executed. Also recorded are data on whether the only evidence for the execution was official records indicating that an individual (executioner or slave owner) was compensated for an execution.

Access Notes

  • This study is intended for instructional use, and may be subsets of the original data. Variables and/or cases may have been removed to facilitate classroom use.

  • Data in this collection are available only to users at ICPSR member institutions. Please log in so we can determine if you are with a member institution and have access to these data files.


Dataset - Download All Files (1.496 MB)

Study Description


Oberly, James W. Executions in the United States, 1608-1991: The Espy File [Instructional Materials]. ICPSR03465-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2002.

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Export Citation:

  • RIS (generic format for RefWorks, EndNote, etc.)
  • EndNote XML (EndNote X4.0.1 or higher)


This study was funded by:

  • University of Wisconsin. Office of Professional and Instructional Development
  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Bureau of Justice Statistics

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    capital punishment, civil rights, crime, criminal justice system, executions, instructional materials, offenders, offenses

Geographic Coverage:    United States

Time Period:   

  • 1608--1991

Date of Collection:   

  • 1989--2002

Universe:    Executions that occurred under civil authority in the United States or within territory that later became part of the United States.

Data Type(s):    aggregate data

Data Collection Notes:

This collection was archived by ICPSR to promote the use of social science data in undergraduate and graduate education through the sharing of faculty-submitted ICPSR data-based instructional materials developed for use in the classroom.

These materials were designed for use with the dataset EXECUTIONS IN THE UNITED STATES, 1608-1991: THE ESPY FILE (ICPSR 8451).

The data are provided as an SPSS portable file, which was created from the ASCII data and SPSS data definition statement files available from ICPSR 8451, 3rd edition.


Data Source:

state Department of Corrections records, newspapers, county histories, proceedings of state and local courts, holdings of historical societies, and other listings of executions


Original ICPSR Release:   2003-01-02

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