Creating a New Database for the Study of Southern Lynchings: Public Use Microdata, the Historical United States County Boundary Files 1790 - 1999, and Forensic Demography

Stewart E. Tolnay, University of Washington
Amy K. Bailey, University of Washington

Information on lynch victim characteristics in even the best sources is limited to the individual’s race, gender, and county in which s/he was lynched. This paper outlines procedures and preliminary results for creation of a new data source that will add individual and household characteristics available in the US Census of the Population, including socioeconomic, demographic, and family structural details. We utilize the Historical United States County Boundary Files 1790 – 1999, the Beck-Tolnay inventory of nearly 3,000 lynch victims, and historical census enumerator’s records to identify known lynch victims and their households, and to link this information with data on their communities of residence and of lynching. This new resource will enable lynching researchers to incorporate characteristics of lynch victims, and to conduct micro-level and hierarchical quantitative, as well as qualitative, research on lynching. Spatial proximity to the county of lynching is a key determinant of identifying possible “matches.”

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Presented in Poster Session 2: Family, Households, Unions; Data, Methods, Study Design