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Executions in the United States, 1608-1991: The Espy File [Instructional Materials]

Resource Type
Dataset : aggregate data
  • Oberly, James W. (University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Department of History)
Other Title
  • Archival Version (Subtitle)
Publication Date
Funding Reference
  • University of Wisconsin. Office of Professional and Instructional Development
  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. Bureau of Justice Statistics
Free Keywords
capital punishment; civil rights; crime; criminal justice system; executions; instructional materials; offenders; offenses
  • Abstract

    These instructional materials were prepared for use with EXECUTIONS IN THE UNITED STATES, 1608-1991: THE ESPY FILE (ICPSR 8451), compiled by M. Watt Espy and John Ortiz Smykla. The data file (an SPSS portable file) and accompanying documentation are provided to assist educators in instructing students about the history of capital punishment in the United States. An instructor's handout is also included. This handout contains the following sections, among others: (1) general goals for student analysis of quantitative datasets, (2) specific goals in studying this dataset, (3) suggested appropriate courses for use of the dataset, (4) tips for using the dataset, and (5) related secondary source readings. This dataset furnishes data on executions performed under civil authority in the United States between 1608 and April 24, 1991, and describes each individual executed and the circumstances surrounding the crime for which the person was convicted. Variables include age, race, name, sex, and occupation of the offender, place, jurisdiction, date, and method of execution, and the crime for which the offender was executed. Also recorded are data on whether the only evidence for the execution was official records indicating that an individual (executioner or slave owner) was compensated for an execution.
  • Table of Contents


    • DS1: Dataset
Temporal Coverage
  • 1608 / 1991
    Time period: 1608--1991
  • 1989 / 2002
    Collection date: 1989--2002
Geographic Coverage
  • United States
Sampled Universe
Executions that occurred under civil authority in the United States or within territory that later became part of the United States.
Collection Mode
  • This collection was archived by ICPSR to promote the use of social science data in undergraduate and graduate education through the sharing of faculty-submitted ICPSR data-based instructional materials developed for use in the classroom.

    These materials were designed for use with the dataset EXECUTIONS IN THE UNITED STATES, 1608-1991: THE ESPY FILE (ICPSR 8451).

    The data are provided as an SPSS portable file, which was created from the ASCII data and SPSS data definition statement files available from ICPSR 8451, 3rd edition.

This version of the study is no longer available on the web. If you need to acquire this version of the data, you have to contact ICPSR User Support (
Alternative Identifiers
  • 3465 (Type: ICPSR Study Number)
  • Is previous version of
    DOI: 10.3886/ICPSR03465.v1
  • Blackman, Paul H., McLaughlin, Vance. The Espy files on American executions: User beware. Homicide Studies.15, (3), 209-227.2011.
    • ID: 10.1177/1088767911418054 (DOI)
  • Linders, Annulla. The Execution Spectacle and State Legitimacy: The Changing Nature of the American Execution Audience, 1833-1937. Law and Society Review.36, (3), 607-655.2002.
    • ID: (URL)

Update Metadata: 2015-08-05 | Issue Number: 6 | Registration Date: 2015-06-15

Oberly, James W. (2003): Executions in the United States, 1608-1991: The Espy File [Instructional Materials]. Archival Version. Version: v0. ICPSR - Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research. Dataset.