Finding Older Statistics

Statistics on American religious groups from the colonial period through the early twentieth century.

Rupp, Israel Daniel. 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. Philadelphia: Charles Desilver, 1861. Reprint. Communal Societies in America: An AMS Reprint Series. New York: AMS Press, 1975. [Ref. BR516.5.R46 1975]

Depending on the denomination, statistical information may be fairly complete or merely conjectural for the second quarter of the nineteenth century. Each of the 53 essays includes some statistical information; the most thorough statistical summaries appear on pp. 637-656 (for Baptists, New School Presbyterians, Old School Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Evangelical Lutherans, Methodist Episcopalians, Jews, Evangelical German Reformed, Reformed Protestant Dutch, Roman Catholic, United Presbyterian, Congregationalist, and Universalist groups).

Report on Statistics of Churches in the United States at the Eleventh Census: 1890. [Reports of the Eleventh Census of the United States, 1890; 9]. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1894. [folio BR525.A3 1890a]

A comprehensive government survey of American religious bodies in 1890, including "every church of 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. [The fifteen Census Bulletins which originally presented the data collected here are bound in one volume and can be found in the stacks under BR525.A3 1890, Census Bulletin: Statistics of Churches (Washington, D.C.: United States Census Office, 1890).[folio BR525.A3 1906a v.1-2]

United States. Bureau of the Census. Religious Bodies: 1906. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1910. Volume 1 online. Volume 2 online.

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.

United States. Bureau of the Census. Religious Bodies: 1916. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1919. [folio BR525.A3 1916 v.1-2].Volume 1 online. Volume 2 online.

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.

United States. Bureau of the Census. Religious Bodies: 1926. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1929-30 [v. 1, 1930]. [BR525.A3 1926 v.1-2] Volume 2 online

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.

United States. Bureau of the Census. Religious Bodies: 1936. Selected Statistics for the United States by Denominations and Geographic Divisions. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1941. BR525.A3 1936a]

Contains summaries of census data for 1936; this volume should be used with Religious Bodies, 1936, BR525.A3 1936b.

Religious Bodies, 1936. Washington: U.S. G.P.O.: For sale by the Supt. of Docs., 1941. [Ref. BR525.A3 1936b v.1-2:pt.1-2 (also stacks)]

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.

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. Photocopy. Ann Arbor, Mich.: University Microfilms International, 1982. [Ref. BR515.A5 1982 v. 1]

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. Microfiche. Evanston, Ill.: American Theological Library Association, 1989.[Mfiche ATLA 1988-0331]

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.

Gaustad, Edwin Scott. Historical Atlas of Religion in America. Rev. ed. New York: Harper and Row, 1976. Ref. G1201.E4 G3 1976]

A study of the geography of American religion, divided into into the periods 1650-1800 and 1800-1975. The first section studies the growth in the number of churches in eight denominational groups prior to 1800. The second section studies the growth between 1800 and 1975 of the colonial bodies and three significant post-colonial groups (Methodists, Mormons, and Disciples), including data on the total membership as well as the number of churches. The effects of immigration and ethnicity on the religious constitution of the nation receive some particular attention. The third section studies thirteen additional religious groups in the 1800-1975 period. The fourth section pays particular attention to American Indians, Jews, and African Americans in American religious history. The section on American Indians, for instance, includes maps of Indian missions and charts and maps showing the changes in population and the location of Indian reservations. Attention is also given to Alaska and Hawaii and the particular characteristics of religious geography in those states. [For more detailed analysis of the period 1952-1990, see also Peter L. Halvorson, Atlas of Religious Change in America, 1952-1990. (Atlanta, Ga.: Glenmary Research Center, 1994), Ref. G1201.E4 H3 1994.]