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Data 101

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Union Army

The Union Army sample is a longitudinal, life-cycle sample of Civil War veterans. The sample is comprised of nearly 40,000 northern, white soldiers serving in 331 companies of volunteer infantry and representative of the white, northern, male population of the United States at that time. Officers commissioned at the time of enlistment and African American soldiers are excluded from the sample.

Beginning in 1981, researchers selected 331 companies from the complete list of regiments found in A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion by Frederick H. Dyer using a one-stage cluster sampling procedure. They then extracted names and identifying information from the Regimental Books (Record Group 94) housed at the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C. Researchers then linked each soldier to his three main types of records: the Compiled Military Service Record (CMSR), Pension (PEN), and Carded Medical Record (CMR). Pension Records additionally contain detailed medical records called Surgeons’ Certificates (SCRTS) which were collected separately from other pension data. Researchers also linked each soldier to U.S. Federal Censuses and added his family members to the data set.

Originally, only four decades of census were searched: 1850, 1860, 1900, and 1910. With advances in online resources and the release of additional census years, researchers at the end of the project were able to link the last 27 companies (from Indiana and Wisconsin) to every census decade between 1850 and 1930 (except for the lost 1890 census). Thus, there is a subset of the Union Army sample known as IN/WI that contains additional data not present in the larger data set. This IN/WI data is also available as a separate download.

A unique 10-digit identification number, stored in the variable recidnum, identifies each recruit throughout the separate data sets of the Early Indicators projects.

The list of companies in the Union Army sample is also available for download.