I'm not very familiar with data sources in the United States, but is it possible to find "standard" economic data, like household expenditures, average/median household income, average/median business spending, etc. by county for the time period 1900 - 1950? It doesn't have to be every year, but every 5-10 years would be helpful.

I saw this question that suggests the ACS and Decennial Census for more recent decades (like back to 1990), but I'm looking for historical data.

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    I'm guessing you've already looked at data.gov and searched first.gov for how the consumer price index (CPI) is computed? Standard advice: libraries may have older information that hasn't been uploaded online yet.
    – user3856
    Jul 1, 2018 at 15:17

1 Answer 1


For data related to households, you can get pre-1990 data from NHGIS https://www.nhgis.org/

Keep in mind, the U.S. Census changed the way the collect their "sample data" (items beyond the basic population county by age/race/sex - i.e. income, employment, etc) after the 2000 Census, when they switched to the American Community Survey (ACS). See the write up here: https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/decennial-census/about/census-acs.html

For data related to businesses, check out the County Business Patterns from the U.S. Census. https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/cbp/data.html

For data prior to 1986 You will need to get it from the National Archives: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/613576

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