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Delegate Positions on All Substantive Roll Calls at the United States Constitutional Convention, 1787 (ICPSR 33865)

Principal Investigator(s): Dougherty, Keith L., University of Georgia; Heckelman, Jac C., Wake Forest University


This data set contains 5,121 yay or nay positions (including preferences) on 620 substantive motions for 55 delegates who attended the United States Constitutional Convention held in 1787. Since delegate votes were not recorded at the Constitutional Convention -- only the votes of state delegations were recorded -- delegate votes were inferred from statements made by delegates during debate, motions and seconds, and the formal rule that the vote recorded for each state was determined by the majority of its delegation. This data set also contains state positions on each motion as well as category codes for each motion. Each observation includes the roll call number, the vote recorded for the state on the motion, and the vote or preference inferred for each delegate, including information about attendance.

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Study Description


Dougherty, Keith L., and Jac C. Heckelman. Delegate Positions on All Substantive Roll Calls at the United States Constitutional Convention, 1787. ICPSR33865-v2. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2016-01-27. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR33865.v2

Persistent URL: https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR33865.v2

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This study was funded by:

  • National Science Foundation (SES-0752098)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    delegates, eighteenth century, historical data, roll call data, roll call voting records, voting behavior, voting patterns

Geographic Coverage:    United States

Time Period:   

  • 1787-05--1787-09

Date of Collection:   

  • 2008--2011

Unit of Observation:    individual

Universe:    Delegate votes on all substantive roll calls at the Constitutional Convention.

Data Type(s):    roll call voting data

Data Collection Notes:

Research assistance provided by Paul Carlsen, Rocky Cole, Rachel Columb, George Cone, Christopher Cotter, Brandon Kliewer, Yao Kang, Monica Petrescu, and Rebecca Sherman.

Please see the related study "Delegate Votes on 28 Motions at the United States Constitutional Convention, 1787," (ICPSR 24544) which contains important differences as compared to the current study in that it assumes delegates maintained the same position on an issue throughout their careers, which allows additional information to be used to infer delegate votes, and is limited to 28 motions. This study (ICPSR 33865) allows delegates to change positions between roll calls and only uses information if it can be tied to a specific roll call, and covers 620 substantive motions.


Study Design:    Coder interpretation of delegate positions were based on statements made in debate, attendance records, and the formal rule that a majority of a state's delegation determined the vote recorded for their state. Intercoder reliability was maintained through double blind coding.

Sample:    The data set contains the universe of substantive votes at the United States Constitutional Convention, 1787. Procedural votes and votes without debate were not recorded.

Time Method:    Cross-sectional

Weight:    n/a

Data Source:

Please refer to the "Codebook" and "Summary and Sources" sections of the ICPSR codebook for additional details about the sources of the data collection.

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:   2012-08-02

Version History:

  • 2016-01-27 The data and documentation for this collection have been updated to contain P.I. recodes.

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