317: Datapedia of the United States, edited by George Kurian

by Gerard


317.3: Kurian, George Thomas, Ed. Datapedia of the United States, 1790-2005: America Year By Year. Lanham, MD: Bernan Press, 2001. 557 pp. ISBN 0-89059-256-X.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 300: Social Sciences
  • 310: Statistics
  • 317: General statistics of North America
  • 317.3: General statistics of United States

If there’s anything that’s sure to flock readers to your book, it’s five hundred pages of data tables. George Kurian’s Datapedia of the United States is a monumental undertaking. He has curated data from hundreds of sources and collated them into different tables and graphs to show how the United States has changed statistically over the past 215 years. He organizes this information into 25 different major groups, ranging from general stats to agriculture to manufacturing to government. If there’s a statistic you’re looking for, it’s probably in here. Each section starts off with an array of interesting factoids, and then he dives headfirst into the data. Here’s just a sample:

  • Up until 1830, deaf, blind, and mute people were not counted on the census.
  • The US passed the $1 trillion GDP mark in 1970.
  • Nearly 25% percent of the US is federal land.
  • The first major highway was built from Cumberland, Maryland to Vandalia, Illinois from 1806 to 1840.
  • In 1880, only 2,076 new books were published in the US. By 1998, it has increased to 56,129 new books or new editions; 7,096 of those were general fiction.

On and on, it goes for over 550 pages. If you want to how much money was spent on advertising in 1937 or how many cows were kept on farms during the 1970s or the exact vote count cast by party by state for the last 160 years, it’s all here. If you’re going to trot some odd statistic for a report or a talk, you best come here first. It’s one-stop shopping for data wonks. That being said, do not under any circumstances try to read this like a book. The only things to sink your teeth into are the section heading factoids. After that, it’s page after page of data tables. Pages and pages and pages and pages…good luck.