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Historical Bankruptcy | Project Progress

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Questions?

Interested in using the data? Interested in being a research assistant? Interested in supporting our research?

Please contact our Project Director, Prof. Mary Eschelbach Hansen:
mhansen@american.edu

A Sample of Historical Bankruptcy Cases: Progress Report

The table below summarizes our progress. Courts are chosen at random from holdings at the National Archives, with the exception of the courts in Mississippi, Maryland, and Alabama, which were chosen to ensure that case files from all historical periods were piloted to facilitate the following research questions:

  • To what extent did the St. Louis Fed's no bailout policy send insolvent but illiquid borrowers into bankruptcy?
  • To what extent did bankruptcy rates among men and women converge between 1940 and 2000?
  • To what extent did local trends in bankruptcy and indebtedness diverge from district and state trends?
  • To what extent are African-Americans represented in early filings?

Project Status as of April 16, 2014

State District Division Earliest Filing Latest Filing
Cases
Photo'd
Number
of Photos
Status
Total 1898 2003 18,091 359,872 (Approximately) 1,500 cases ready for preliminary research, 3,000 entered into Excel, 6,000 organized for data entry.
Alabama Northern Birmingham 1898 1951 3,007 22,209 Photos being organized
DC DC n/a 1968 1979 339 7,259 Photos being taken
Maine n/a Northern 1946 1979 585 14,255 Photos being organized
Maine n/a Southern 1945 1978 2,640 57,150  
Mississippi Northern Aberdeen 1933 1933 1 33 Being cleaning & coded in Stata
Northern Clarksdale 1929 1936 112 3,145
Northern Oxford 1929 1936 112 2,278
Southern Biloxi 1929 1936 121 2,584
Southern Jackson 1929 1936 196 4,603
Southern Meridian 1929 1936 117 4,833
Southern Vicksburg 1929 1937 121 7,072
Missouri Eastern St Louis 1898 1953 1,166 29,582 Being cleaned & coded in Stata
Western Kansas City 1898 1949 2,088 42,626 Photos being encoded
Maryland n/a Baltimore 1940 2003 3,155 82,219 Being cleaned & coded in Stata.
Nebraska n/a Omaha 1898 1944 717 15,185 Photos taken
Tennessee Middle Nashville 1898 1944 2,097 34,692 Photos taken

Western Memphis 1899 1944 1,517 30,147 Photos taken

Conference Presentations 

Mary Eschelbach Hansen, “Intersectoral Differences in Sources of Credit,” Enterprising American Conference, December 2013.

Megan Lynn Fasules and Mary Eschelbach Hansen. "Interactions Between Social Insurance Programs: The Impact of Medicare on the Characteristics of Petitioners for Bankruptcy" Allied Social Science Association Annual Meeting, January 2013.

Mary Eschelbach Hansen, “Financial System Liquidity and Bankruptcy: Mississippi 1929-31,” Economic History Association Annual Meeting, September 2012.

Mary Eschelbach Hansen, "Differences in Sources of Credit by Sector: An Exploration of Bankruptcy Records from Mississippi, 1929-1936," Enterprising America Conference, December 2013.