A new occupational/industrial coding system for 19th Century U.S. heavy industrial workers

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    Many census occupational classification systems have been developed over the last 150 years. Availability of digital census data sets now means such classifications can be systematically analyzed. Examination of heavy industrial workers in the full count U.S. 1880 census, and other censuses, has revealed major problems in the attribution of occupations to industrial sectors. This is traceable to the original enumeration process, and it particularly affects generic tradesmen such as blacksmiths and carpenters, who worked in numerous industrial sectors. As a result, the imputation of industrial sector codes from recorded occupations by the North Atlantic Population Project (NAPP) is substantially in error, suggesting that re-coding of existing census records using non-census sources would be necessary for such industrial sector codes to have empirical validity. A new occupational/industrial coding system, incorporating the NAPP-modified HISCO scheme, is presented. This system is capable of supporting both future re-coding work, in a structured data warehouse environment, and the systematic coding of occupational data from a range of archival sources such as company records and city directories.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalSAGE Open
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2015


    • occupational coding
    • census analysis
    • North Atlantic Population Project
    • industrial workers
    • HISCO codes


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