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American Colonial Wealth Estimates, 1774 (ICPSR 7329) RSS

Principal Investigator(s):


This study was the outcome of an extensive research project that cataloged and analyzed the various types of wealth that existed in the American colonies in 1774, just before the Revolution. Data about 919 decedents having resided in 21 colonial counties in both rural and urban settings were collected from county probate records in the New England colonies, the Middle Colonies, New York, and the South. WEALTH OF A NATION TO BE: THE AMERICAN COLONIES ON THE EVE OF THE REVOLUTION (see Related Literature associated with this study) discusses the entire project, providing tables, graphs, summaries, and conclusions. AMERICAN COLONIAL WEALTH, DOCUMENTS AND METHODS includes some documentation for the codes used as well as the verbatim listings of the probate files of the 919 persons studied.

Access Notes

  • One or more data files in this study are set up in a non-standard format, such as card image format. Users may need help converting these files before they can be used for analysis.

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WARNING: Because this study has many datasets, the download all files option has been suppressed, and you will need to download one dataset at a time.

DS0:  Study-Level Files
DS1:  Each Region, Wealth Summary: Middle Colonies (MIDLCOL) - Download All Files (3.7 MB)
DS2:  Each Region, Wealth Summary: New England (NEWENGL) - Download All Files (3.8 MB)
DS3:  Each Region, Wealth Summary: South, followed by New York (SOUTH) - Download All Files (3.7 MB)
DS4:  Middle Colonies Wealth Detail: Gross Portable Wealth Detail (GPWDTL) - Download All Files (7.2 MB)
DS5:  Middle Colonies Wealth Detail: Gross Portable Wealth, Total per Decedent (GPWTOT) - Download All Files (3.6 MB)
DS6:  Middle Colonies Wealth Detail: Real Estate Information from Inventories (REINV) - Download All Files (3.5 MB)
DS7:  Middle Colonies Wealth Detail: Additional Real Estate, etc. (ACCTWO) - Download All Files (3.6 MB)
DS8:  Wealth Summary for Middle Colonies: Middle Colonies (SUMMARY) - Download All Files (3.6 MB)
DS9:  Middle Colonies Wealth Detail: Allocations of "Purse and Apparel" Entry (ALLOCS) - Download All Files (3.5 MB)
DS10:  Middle Colonies Wealth Detail: Withdrawn Cards (EXTRAS) - Download All Files (3.5 MB)
DS11:  Age in Years: Age in Years of Decedents (AGEYRS) - Download All Files (3.5 MB)
DS12:  Ordered Listing of Wealth: Ordered Listing of TPW, Middle Colonies (MCTPW) - Download All Files (3.5 MB)
DS13:  Ordered Listing of Wealth: Ordered Listing of TPW, New England (NETPW) - Download All Files (3.5 MB)
DS14:  Ordered Listing of Wealth: Ordered Listing of TPW, South (SOTPW) - Download All Files (3.5 MB)
DS15:  Ordered Listing of Wealth: Ordered Listing of TPW, New York (NYTPW) - Download All Files (3.4 MB)
DS16:  Ordered Listing of Wealth: Ordered Listing of NW, Middle Colonies (MCNW) - Download All Files (3.5 MB)
DS17:  Ordered Listing of Wealth: Ordered Listing of NW, New England (NENW) - Download All Files (3.5 MB)
DS18:  Ordered Listing of Wealth: Ordered Listing of NW, South (SONW) - Download All Files (3.5 MB)
DS19:  Ordered Listing of Wealth: Ordered Listing of NW, New York (NYNW) - Download All Files (3.4 MB)
DS20:  Regression Analysis Data: Dataset to Estimate Virginia Land Prices (VALAND) - Download All Files (3.6 MB)
DS21:  Regression Analysis Data: Dataset to Estimate Maryland Land Prices (MALAND) - Download All Files (3.5 MB)
DS22:  Regression Analysis Data: Dataset to Estimate North Carolina Land Prices (NCLAND) - Download All Files (3.5 MB)
DS23:  Regression Analysis Data: Dataset to Estimate South Carolina Land Prices (SCLAND) - Download All Files (3.5 MB)
DS24:  Regression Analysis Data: Dataset to Estimate Charleston, SC, Land Prices (SCURBN) - Download All Files (3.4 MB)

Study Description


Jones, Alice Hanson. American Colonial Wealth Estimates, 1774. ICPSR07329-v2. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2012-09-11. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR07329.v2

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Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   agricultural productivity, American Colonies, eighteenth century, historical periods, land ownership, personal wealth, wills

Smallest Geographic Unit:   county

Geographic Coverage:   United States

Time Period:  

  • 1774

Date of Collection:  

  • 1968

Unit of Observation:   probate inventories

Universe:   Probate inventories issued in 1774 for decedents from the American colonies.

Data Types:   administrative records data


Sample:   The sample design aimed to ensure representativeness. Contiguous counties were grouped into units of approximately 20,000 wealthholders, out of which a representative county was drawn based on the number of wealthholders in each county. The cases in the sample were then weighted, first to reflect the age distribution of the total population, and then to take into account those individuals who did not have their estates probated.

Weight:   For a description of the weights and their intended usage, please see Jones, Alice Hanson. American Colonial Wealth: Documents And Methods. New York: Arno Press, 1977, Section VI: Weighting Procedures.

Data Source:

county probate records

Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Created variable labels and/or value labels.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


Original ICPSR Release:  

Version History:

  • 2012-09-11 SAS, SPSS, and Stata setups, as well as SPSS and Stata system files, and SAS transport (CPORT) files have been added to this collection. The data for Dataset 8 (Wealth Summary for Middle Colonies: Middle Colonies) have been converted from ASCII card-image format to ASCII column-delimited format. The data for Dataset 4 have been cleaned up by removing non-ASCII characters. The codebook has been updated.
  • 2006-01-18 File CB7329.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.
  • 2002-01-14 A blank line was deleted at the end of Part 24.

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