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Machine-readable data files may have been transferred from their original format to a machine-readable form or may exist only as electronic resources. The data exist in a format that requires documentation (often called a codebook) to decipher.

The data are used in a statistical software program in order to perform statistical analysis. It is often necessary to have some knowledge of statistical methods and statistical computer packages before using these data files.

Tools for identifying machine-readable data files.

Examples of sources which have been converted to data files are:

  • Historical population, economic and social data: France, 1801-1896 = Donnees historiques sur la population, l'economie et le context social: France, 1801-1896 [computer file] . Ann Arbor, Mich.: Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research, [197 - ].  Social Science Library Data Doc HA1230 H58 (LC)

  • This collection of data files was converted from published reports of three national statistical series : Statistique générale de la France, which contains results of the quinquennial census of population, 1851-1896 ; Statistique de la l'enseignement primarie for data on primary education; and Mouvement de la population for vital and demographical statistics.
  • David Herlihy and Christiane Klapisch-Zuber. Census and property survey of Florentine domains and the city of Verona in the fifteenth century ltaly [computer file] . Cambridge, Mass.: David Herlihy, Harvard University, Department of History and Paris, France: Christiane Klapisch-Zuber, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes [producers], 1977. Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin, Data and Program Library Service [distributor], 1988.

  • This collection is coded from the official manuscripts of the tax declarations (campioni) in fifteenth century Italy.
  • Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, 1850 - 1990 [computer file]. Minneapolis, Minn.: Minnesota Historical Census Projects, Dept. of History, University of Minnesota, [199 - ].
    The Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) is the largest publicly accessible computerized database on a human population. The series includes individual-level samples of the United States population censuses from 1850 to 1990. Most of these samples have existed for several years, but researchers have found it hard to make comparisons between them because they are generally coded and documented differently. The IPUMS combines them into a single database that, insofar as possible, assigns uniform codes to variables across all years for which they are available. The IPUMS includes all information available in the original public use samples for each census year.
Data which exist only in machine-readable versions include public opinion or other survey data and need to be distinguished from reports of the surveys. Examples of these include:
  • Euro-Barometer [computer file] . Ann Arbor, Mich. : Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research.  Social Science Library Data Doc HM261 C652 (LC)

  • This series of surveys has been conducted to assess attitudes of individuals in the European Community toward European unification. Also included are questions on social issues, political behavior and demographic characteristics.
  • Euro-barometer . Brussels : Commission of the European Communities, 1974 -.  Government Documents Center EC 1.1022

  • This reference is to the printed reports of these surveys. The printed reports contain tabulated data and individual responses cannot be identified.
  • Current population survey, [computer file] / principal investigator, United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. Ann Arbor, Mich. : Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 197- .  Social Science Library Data Doc HA201 C875 (LC)

  • This group of surveys is conducted regularly to provide the government with the information necessary to make population projections, analyze poverty and unemployment, and study demographic trends. The data from the survey are stored in records for households and individuals but are only published in tabulated form in various government publications. This is the bibliographic record for the computer tapes distributed by the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research.
  • Current population survey : annual demographic files. [computer file] . Washington, D.C. : U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of the Census.  Government Documents Center, C 3.224/12

  • This is the record for the CD-ROM version of the survey, which is distributed by the Bureau of the Census.


This material is based on the Web site created to support a series of colloquia in historical research offered by the Yale University Library. The initial site was prepared in August 1996 by Suzanne Lorimer, Susanne Roberts, Margaret Powell, George Miles, Fred Musto, Emily Horning, Cesar Rodriguez, Nancy Godleski, Richard Williams, Elizabeth Pauk, and Martha Brogan.

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This file last modified 09/28/05

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