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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 February 23, 2016

State District Division Earliest Filing Latest Filing
Cases
Photo'd
Number
of Photos
Status
Total 1898 2003 22,996
465,525  
Alabama Northern Birmingham 1898 1960 3,048 22,446 Data being entered
DC DC DC 1967 1979 363 7,797 Photos taken
Maine Northern Northern 1946 1960 585 14,255 Photos taken
Southern Southern 1945 1979 2,690 57,150 Ready for research
Mississippi Northern Aberdeen 1933 1933 1 33 Ready for research
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 1928 1937 121 7,072
Missouri Eastern St Louis 1898 1983 1,178 29,582 Being cleaned & coded in Stata
Southeastern Eastern
1913 1951 237 5,068
Western Kansas City 1898 1949 2,088 42,626
Maryland n/a Baltimore 1940 2003 3,155 82,219 Ready for research
Nebraska n/a Omaha 1898 1999 738 16,336 Photos taken
Norfolk Scheduled for 2016
Lincoln Scheduled for 2016
Tennessee Middle Nashville 1898 1943 2,097 34,692 Expect complete spring 2016

Western Memphis 1899 1944 1,518 30,147 Expect complete spring 2016
S. Carolina Western Greenville 1915 1946 170 3,955 Photos taken
Ohio Southern Western
1931 1950 963 18,857 Photos taken
Colorado n/a Pueblo 1907 1949 264 5,990 Photos taken
n/a Denver 1951 1971 232 5,557 Photos taken
Minnesota n/a Duluth
1899 1944 610 14,188 Photos taken
Illinois Southern-Central Peoria 1915 1924 96 2,247 Photos taken
Southern-Central Springfield         Scheduled for 2016
North Dakota
n/a Southeastern
1898 1938 952 21,315 Photos being taken
Kansas n/a Wichita         Scheduled for 2016
Michigan
Eastern Northern
1904 1944 853 18,547 Photos taken
Indiana Southern New Albany 1908 1939 59 1,078 Photos taken
Iowa
Southern Western
1899 1835 320 6,925 Photos taken

Publications

Mary Eschelbach Hansen (2014). "Sources of Credit and the Extent of the Credit Market: A View from Bankruptcy Records, Mississippi 1929-1936." In Enterprising America, William Collins and Robert Margo (editors)(Chicago: NBER/Chicago University Press), pp. 179-214.

Related Data Publications

Mary Eschelbach Hansen, Matthew Davis, and Megan Fasules (2015). "United States Bankruptcy Statistics by District, 1899-2007," Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2015-03-02. 

Mary Eschelbach Hansen, Jess Chen, and Matthew Davis, "United States District Court Boundary Shapefiles (1900-2000)," Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2015-03-02.

Conference Presentations 

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

Megan Lynn Fasules, "The Impact of Medicare on Bankruptcy," Washington Area Economic History Workshop, November 2012.

Megan Lynn Fasules, "The Impact of Medicare on Bankruptcy Rates," Economic and Business Association Annual Meeting, May 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, “Intersectoral Differences in Sources of Credit,” Enterprising American Conference, December 2013.

Megan Lynn Fasules, "The Impact of Medicare on Personal Bankruptcy," (Poster Session), Economic History Association Annual Meeting, September 2014.

Megan Lynn Fasules, "The Impact of Medicare on Medical Debt Under Personal Bankruptcy," Southern Economic Association Annual Meeting, November 2014. 

Mary Eschelbach Hansen, "A New View of Women in Bankruptcy," Economic and Business History Society Meeting, May 2016.

Working Papers

Mary Eschelbach Hansen and Nicholas L. Ziebarth, "Credit Relationships and Business Bankruptcy during the Great Depression"

Mary Eschelbach Hansen and Michelle M. Miller, "A New View of Women in Bankruptcy"