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Colonial New England Probates, 1631-1776 (ICPSR 34940)

Principal Investigator(s): Main, Gloria, University of Colorado-Boulder; Main, Jackson, University of Colorado-Boulder; Lindert, Peter H., University of California-Davis


The Colonial New England Probates collection features data drawn from administrative records of 18,509 estates probated between the years of 1631 and 1776 in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire. The data focus on measures of economic wealth, such as gross personal wealth, debts receivable, debts payable, and estate inventory values for consumer goods and real estate. Historical currency deflators and price indices are also incorporated. Geographic variables include sub-region, county, colony, and town. Demographic information for deceased estate owners includes age, sex, occupation, marital status, and parental status.

Access Notes

  • The public-use data files in this collection are available for access by the general public. Access does not require affiliation with an ICPSR member institution.


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Study Description


Main, Gloria, Jackson Main, and Peter H. Lindert. Colonial New England Probates, 1631-1776. ICPSR34940-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2014-02-11. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR34940.v1

Persistent URL: https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR34940.v1

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Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    American Colonies, currencies, debt, economic history, land ownership, landowners, occupations, price indexes, probate, real estate, wealth

Smallest Geographic Unit:    town

Geographic Coverage:    Connecticut, Massachusetts, New England, New Hampshire, United States

Time Period:   

  • 1631--1776

Unit of Observation:    individual

Universe:    Deceased individuals with estates probated between the years of 1631 and 1776 in colonial New England.

Data Type(s):    administrative records data

Data Collection Notes:

This data collection contains several variables that appear to be derived from other variables. Many of the derived variables featured undocumented codes; ICPSR has labeled some codes where possible. No additional information was provided.


Study Purpose:    This study aims to facilitate historical economic analysis through the dissemination of administrative records data which highlight variations in the amount, distribution, and composition of wealth in colonial New England.

Time Method:    Cross-sectional

Weight:    The data are not weighted; however, the dataset contains a weight variable (AGEWT), which users may wish to apply during analysis. No other information was provided regarding weights.

Mode of Data Collection:    record abstracts

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:   2014-02-11

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