Cole Historical Data

Proprietary data:
1700 - 1861
Number of goods:
United States
Research papers:

Original Sources

This electronic data archive was developed by Mario J. Crucini, Chris I. Telmer and Robert A. Margo. The original source document for this data is:

Wholesale Commodity Prices in the United States, 1700-1861, Statistical Supplement, Actual Wholesale Prices of Various Commodities, by Arthur H. Cole, 1938, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.



We are grateful to the following excellent research assistants who have toiled on this archive: PJ Glandon, Chih-Wei (Danny) Wang, and Hakan Yilmazkuday. Mario Crucini, Mototsugu Shintani, Christopher Telmer, and Hakan Yilmazkuday gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the National Science Foundation (SES- 1030164, and SES-0524868).


The price data consist of monthly price observations of 46 commodities, such as wheat, coal and cod.  Many of these goods are specified down to the exact variety, such as No. 3 Red Wheat, thus the number of varieties is actually 549. The sample period of observation begins in January 1700 and ends in December 1861. The cities included in the panel are Boston, Charleston, Cinncinati,  New York, Boston, New Orleans, and Philadelphia.  Figure 1 shows the coverage of goods (out of 46) for each city over the monthly period of 1700-1861. 


Cole Graph

Cole Graph



Research papers referencing current micro price data:

  1. Shepherd, James:  A Balance of Payments for the Thirteen Colonies, 1768-1772: A Summary - 1965
  2. Rousseau, Peter L.:  A common currency: Early US monetary policy and the transition to the dollar. - 2006
  3. Glaeser, Edward L:  A Nation of Gamblers: Real Estate Speculation and American History - 2013
  4. Smith, Bruce D.:  American Colonial Monetary Regimes: The Failure of the Quantity Theory and Some Evidence in Favour of an Alternate View - 1985
  5. Wright, Gavin and Howard Kunreuthe:  Cotton, Corn and Risk in the Nineteenth Century - 1975
  6. Grubb, Farley:  Creating the U.S. Dollar Currency Union, 1748-1811: A Quest for Monetary Stability or a Usurpation of State Sovereignty for Personal Gain? - 2003
  7. Slaughter, Matthew:  Does Trade Liberalization Converge Factor Prices? Evidence from the Antebellum Transportation Revolution - 2001
  8. Fogel, Robert W. & Stanley L. Engerman:  Explaining the Relative Efficiency of Slave Agriculture in the Antebellum South. - 1977
  9. Steckel, Richard H:  Fluctuations in a Dreadful Childhood: Synthetic Longitudinal Height Data, Relative Prices and Weather in the Short-term Health of American Slaves - 2004
  10. Crucini, Mario J. and Gregor W. Smith:  Geographic Barriers to Commodity Price Integration: Evidence from US Cities and Swedish Towns, 1732 - 1860 - 2014
  11. Sharp, P., & Weisdorf, J.:  Globalization revisited: market integration and the wheat trade between North America and Britain from the eighteenth century - 2013
  12. Davis, Joseph H., Christopher Hanes & Paul W. Rhode:  Harvests and Business Cycles in Nineteenth-Centry America - 2009
  13. Jacks, David S.:  Intra- and international commodity market integration in the Atlantic economy - 2005
  14. Shiue, Carol H. and Wolfgang Keller:  Markets in China and Europe on the Eve of the Industrial Revolution - 2007
  15. Atack, Jeremy:  On the Use of Geographic Information Systems in Economic History: The American Transportation Revolution Revisited. - 2013
  16. Rosenbloom, Joshua L.:  Path Dependence and the Origins of Cotton Textile Manufacturing in New England. - 2002
  17. Sokoloff, Kenneth L.:  Productivity Growth in Manufacturing during Early Industrialization: Evidence from the American Northeast 1820-1860 - 1986
  18. Grubb, Farley:  Testing for the Economic Impact of the U.S. Constitution: Purchasing Power Parity across the Colonies versus across the States - 2008
  19. Jacks, David S:  What drove 19th century commodity market integration? - 2006
  20. Federico, G.:  When did European markets integrate? - 2011

Cities in current dataset: