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Historical Statistics of the United States
by Susan Carter
published by Cambridge University Press
© 2006 by Cambridge University Press


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It has been more than 30 years since the Bureau of the Census published an edition of Historical Statistics of the United States. Previous editions were published by the Census Bureau in 1949, 1960, and 1975. Many topics were "enhanced," and new ones have been added, among them "Poverty," "Slavery," "Confederate States of America," and "Race and Ethnicity." Statistics have been updated to include the 2000 census. Each volume and chapter is preceded by an essay or essays providing an overview of the subject and the trends that have been noted by scholars in the field.

What can one easily find in this major compendium by using the excellent index or browsing? Attendance at horse racing in 1997 was about half of what it was in 1976. Voter turnout in presidential elections in the U.S. was at a high in 1860, with 81.2 percent voting, and at one of the lowest percentages in 2000, with 49.3 percent. When the reviewer's great-grandfather emigrated in the late nineteenth century, he was one of 36,000 arriving from Sweden. In 1894 he was one of 958 men killed in coal mining accidents. In the "Health" chapter, one can discover that the incidence of cataracts in the elderly has stayed fairly constant from 1982 to 1995, while the number of people under 18 who have asthma almost doubled in the same period. Among the statistics that one might not expect to find is the number of American Nobel Prize winners by field and country of birth. This is followed by a table of commercial space launches by country.

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