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Old Age in the United States, 1880 (ICPSR 8427)

Published: Oct 31, 1992

Principal Investigator(s):
Richard Jensen; Daniel Scott Smith; Mark W. Friedberger; Michel R. Dahlin; Janice Reiff

Version V1

This data collection describes the social conditions of the older population of the United States in the late nineteenth century. Variables include personal characteristics such as age, sex, marital status, race, birthplace, number of children, and occupation of sampled older persons. Detailed information, extracted from the 1880 United States Census manuscript census schedules, is provided on household composition and family structure. In addition, occupational and ethnic characteristics of family heads appearing on the same sampled census page as the older person (on census pages grouped by street location) are reported. The data collection consists of three independent samples: (1) a national sample, (2) a Southern urban sample, and (3) a Southern Black sample. Older Blacks are over-represented in the Southern urban and Southern Black samples in order to focus on their family experiences in the urban and rural South.

Jensen, Richard, Smith, Daniel Scott, Friedberger, Mark W., Dahlin, Michel R., and Reiff, Janice. Old Age in the United States, 1880. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1992-10-31.

Export Citation:

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United States Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. National Institute on Aging (AG00350-02)


1976 -- 1978

The age distributions are as follows: National sample: 65-74 (N = 1,049), 75-84 (N = 373), 85+ (N = 78). Southern urban sample: 65-74 (N = 564), 75-84 (N = 177), 85 and older (N = 47). Southern Black sample: 65-74 (N = 866), 75-84 (N = 265), 85+ (N = 78).

Three independent samples were drawn from the 1880 United States Census. Sample members were selected from clusters defined by manuscript census pages. The first sample was a stratified sample of the population aged 65 and older in 1880. Southern Blacks were oversampled in the other two samples. The Southern urban sample was drawn from 17 urban Primary Sampling Units (cities with populations over 4,000) and included 473 Blacks and 315 Whites. The Southern Black sample was drawn from 32 counties in the South and consisted of 804 Blacks and 405 Whites.

Noninstitutionalized population of the United States aged 65 and older in 1880 for the sample, noninstitutionalized population aged 65 and older living in the urban South in 1880 for the Southern urban sample, and noninstitutionalized population aged 65 and older living in the South in 1880 for the Southern Black sample.

manuscript census schedules from the United States Census for 1880

survey data



1985-12-20 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:

  • Standardized missing values.
  • Performed recodes and/or calculated derived variables.
  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.


  • 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.

  • The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented.
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This study is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Computerized Data on Aging (NACDA), the aging program within ICPSR. NACDA is sponsored by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Heath (NIH).