Finding Older Statistics

Association of Religion Data Archives

The ARDA Data Archive is a collection of surveys, polls, and other data submitted by researchers.  Includes data from the historic U.S. Census of Religious Bodies for 1906, 1916, 1926, and 1936, which are described more fully below.

The U.S. Census of Religious Bodies

United States conducted censuses of religious organizations from 1890 to 1936. The data are organized by counties.

A comprehensive government survey of American religious bodies in 1890, including "every church or denomination having organizations with members or communicants." Summaries are provided by state or territory, county, and city, by denomination and denominational family, and for "colored organizations." Includes number of edifices and halls, seating capacity, value of church property, communicants or members, and organizations and denominations.

Presents the results of the federal government's 1906 census, which covers the following features of American religious bodies: denomination, ecclesiastical division, organization, geographical location, date of establishment, number of edifices, seating capacity, value of church property, amount of debt on the church, value of parsonage, languages in which services are conducted, the number of ministers and their salaries, the number of communicants or members (total and divided by sex), and organization and membership of Sunday schools. The first volume summarizes the survey data at the national, state or territorial, and city levels; it also provides a general overview of Sunday schools, the professional ministry, and special characteristics (such as language, date of establishment, and African American religious organizations). The rest of the first volume is dedicated to analysis of each feature studied in the census. Volume Two focuses on each denomination, providing statistical information along with essays about denominational history, doctrine, polity, and activity.

Follows the same general format as the 1906 census, with a few notable additions, including information about church expenditures and greater detail concerning professional ministers.

Presents the results of the 1926 federal census. Includes the following statistics: number of churches, church members, edifices and parsonages, value of property and debt, local expenditures and benevolences, missions, denominational support, and Sunday schools. The 1926 census distinguishes between rural and urban churches for the first time. Includes comparisons of 1926 census data to earlier census reports, revealing trends in the number of churches, church membership, Sunday-school scholars, the value of edifices, and changes in expenditures.

Reports on 256 denominations and independent or federated churches, with data from the 1936 federal census. "This report deals primarily with the number, distribution, denominational affiliation, membership, church property, expenditures for the year, and Sunday School enrollment of . . . local churches" (17). Continues the comparative analysis with earlier census reports begun in 1926, and expands the type of data collected on church expenditures.

Contains summaries of census data for 1936.

Religious Denominations in the United States, Their Past History, Present Condition, and Doctrines, Accurately Set Forth in Fifty-three . . . Articles Written by Eminent Clerical and Lay Authors . . . Together with Complete and Well-digested Statistics. To Which Is Added a Historical Summary of Religious Denominations in England and Scotland.

Covers the years 1848-1858.  Depending on the denomination, statistical information may be fairly complete or merely conjectural.   Statistics begin on p. 637 and include numbers of clergy, lay people, and congregations.  Also lists denominational publications.

Carroll, Henry K. The Religious Forces of the United States: Enumerated, Classified, and Described on the Basis of the Government Census of 1890; With an Introduction on the Condition and Character of American Christianity. The American Church History Series. Volume 1. New York: Christian Literature Co., 1893.

Carroll, Henry K. The Religious Forces of the United States Enumerated, Classified, and Described: Returns for 1900 and 1910 Compared with the Government Census of 1890: Condition and Characteristics of Christianity in the United States. Rev. and brought down to 1910. New York: Charles Scribner, 1912.

These volumes organize and summarize the census figures for American religious groups from the 1890 census; the second edition compares census figures from 1900 and 1910 to the 1890 data. The author helpfully describes key differences between denominations, and organizes them into families by confession and polity. General summaries are presented by state, by denomination and denominational families, by size of group, by polity, by race, and by urban size.

New Historical Atlas of Religion in America (Print Only)

Nearly 150 maps, graphs, statistical tables, and narrative text that describes the development of religion in the United States from the colonial period to 1990.