Executions in the United States, 1608-1940: The ESPY File -- Summary Data of Executions Collected by M. Watt Espy Between 1986 and 1996 (ICPSR 23900)

Principal Investigator(s): Espy, M. Watt; Allen, Howard, Southern Illinois University - Carbondale; Clubb, Jerome M., University of Michigan


This collection consists of four summary variables based on new data collected by M. Watt Espy between 1986 and 1996 after he corrected and updated the data in 1992. See the related collection, EXECUTIONS IN THE UNITED STATES, 1608-2002: THE ESPY FILE (ICPSR 8451). The summary variables consist of the ethnicity of the executed, the state, territory, district or colony of execution, the decade of execution, and the geographical region of execution. They were complete as of March 1, 1996.

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


Espy, M. Watt, Howard Allen, and Jerome M. Clubb. Executions in the United States, 1608-1940: The ESPY File -- Summary Data of Executions Collected by M. Watt Espy Between 1986 and 1996. ICPSR23900-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2008-12-12. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR23900.v1

Persistent URL: https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR23900.v1

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This study was funded by:

  • National Science Foundation (SES 84-09725)
  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Bureau of Justice Statistics

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:    capital punishment, crime, criminal justice system, executions, historical data, offenders, offenses

Smallest Geographic Unit:    United States

Geographic Coverage:    United States

Time Period:   

  • 1608--1940

Date of Collection:   

  • 1986--1996

Unit of Observation:    individual

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

Data Type(s):    aggregate data


Mode of Data Collection:    record abstracts

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

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:

  • Performed consistency checks.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


Original ICPSR Release:   2008-12-12

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