American Colonial Wealth Estimates, 1774 (ICPSR 7329)

Version Date: Sep 11, 2012 View help for published

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Alice Hanson Jones, Washington University. Department of Economics

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This study was the outcome of an extensive research project that cataloged and analyzed the various types of wealth that existed in the American colonies in 1774, just before the Revolution. Data about 919 decedents having resided in 21 colonial counties in both rural and urban settings were collected from county probate records in the New England colonies, the Middle Colonies, New York, and the South. WEALTH OF A NATION TO BE: THE AMERICAN COLONIES ON THE EVE OF THE REVOLUTION (see Related Literature associated with this study) discusses the entire project, providing tables, graphs, summaries, and conclusions. AMERICAN COLONIAL WEALTH, DOCUMENTS AND METHODS includes some documentation for the codes used as well as the verbatim listings of the probate files of the 919 persons studied.

Jones, Alice Hanson. American Colonial Wealth Estimates, 1774. Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2012-09-11.

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Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research


The sample design aimed to ensure representativeness. Contiguous counties were grouped into units of approximately 20,000 wealthholders, out of which a representative county was drawn based on the number of wealthholders in each county. The cases in the sample were then weighted, first to reflect the age distribution of the total population, and then to take into account those individuals who did not have their estates probated.


Probate inventories issued in 1774 for decedents from the American colonies.

probate inventories

county probate records



2018-02-15 The citation of this study may have changed due to the new version control system that has been implemented. The previous citation was:
  • Jones, Alice Hanson. American Colonial Wealth Estimates, 1774. ICPSR07329-v2. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2012-09-11.

2012-09-11 SAS, SPSS, and Stata setups, as well as SPSS and Stata system files, and SAS transport (CPORT) files have been added to this collection. The data for Dataset 8 (Wealth Summary for Middle Colonies: Middle Colonies) have been converted from ASCII card-image format to ASCII column-delimited format. The data for Dataset 4 have been cleaned up by removing non-ASCII characters. The codebook has been updated.

2006-01-18 File CB7329.ALL.PDF was removed from any previous datasets and flagged as a study-level file, so that it will accompany all downloads.

2002-01-14 A blank line was deleted at the end of Part 24.

1984-05-11 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.

For a description of the weights and their intended usage, please see Jones, Alice Hanson. American Colonial Wealth: Documents And Methods. New York: Arno Press, 1977, Section VI: Weighting Procedures.