Executions in the United States, 1608-2002: The ESPY File (ICPSR 8451)

Principal Investigator(s): Espy, M. Watt, Headland, Alabama; Smykla, John Ortiz, University of South Alabama. Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice


This collection furnishes data on executions performed under civil authority in the United States between 1608 and 2002. The dataset 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

  • 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.


Executions in the United States, 1608-2002: The ESPY File - Download All Files (7.606 MB)
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Study Description


Espy, M. Watt, and John Ortiz Smykla. Executions in the United States, 1608-2002: The ESPY File . ICPSR08451-v5. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2016-07-20. https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR08451.v5

Persistent URL: https://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR08451.v5

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


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

Geographic Coverage:    United States

Time Period:   

  • 1608--2002

Date of Collection:   

  • 1970--2002

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


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:   1988-01-06

Version History:

  • 2016-07-20 Corrections were made to two records. Case number 40001 was dropped, as government records show that she was pardoned. For case number 50367, the method of execution was changed from hanging to electrocution.
  • 2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.
  • 2004-02-27 Data from the years 1992 through 2002 have been added to the data file. The SPSS and SAS data definition statements have been updated accordingly and Part 2 of this study, old SAS data definition statements will be removed, leaving all files in only one part. The ASCII codebook has also been updated and converted to a PDF file.

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