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Descriptors and Measurements of the Height of Runaway Slaves and Indentured Servants in the United States, 1700-1850

Resource Type
Dataset : event/transaction data
  • Komlos, John
Other Title
  • Archival Version (Subtitle)
Publication Date
Free Keywords
American Colonies; Antebellum South (USA); body height; eighteenth century; indentured servants; nineteenth century; physical characteristics; runaway slaves; slaves
  • Abstract

    The purpose of this data collection was to provide data on the height of slaves and indentured servants in the colonial and antebellum periods of United States history. Data were taken from newspaper advertisements describing the runaways. Variables include the state in which the advertisement was published, the year of the advertisement, the first and last names of the runaway slave or indentured servant, and his or her race, sex, age, height, place of birth, legal status (whether he or she was a convict or in jail at time of advertisement), profession, and knowledge of the English language.
  • Methods

    ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection: Standardized missing values..
  • Table of Contents


    • DS0: Study-Level Files
    • DS1: Runaway Slave Height Measurements
    • DS2: Runaway Slave Height Descriptors
    • DS3: Runaway Indentured Servant Height Measurements
    • DS4: Runaway Indentured Servant Height Descriptors
    • DS6: White Male Indentured and Convict Servant Height Measurements
    • DS7: White Male Indentured and Convict Servant Height Descriptors
Temporal Coverage
  • 1700 / 1850
    Time period: 1700--1850
  • 1988 / 1989
    Collection date: 1988--1989
Geographic Coverage
  • United States
2006-01-12 All files were removed from dataset 5 and flagged as study-level files, so that they will accompany all downloads.2005-11-04 On 2005-03-14 new files were added to one or more datasets. These files included additional setup files as well as one or more of the following: SAS program, SAS transport, SPSS portable, and Stata system files. The metadata record was revised 2005-11-04 to reflect these additions.2001-06-05 Part 6, White Male Indentured and Convict Servant Height Measurements, and Part 7, White Male Indentured and Convict Servant Height Descriptors, have been added to this data collection. The codebook was updated with documentation for the new data and is now available as a PDF file. Also, SPSS data definition statements are now available for all data files, and SAS data definition statements are available for Parts 6 and 7 only.
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
  • 9721 (Type: ICPSR Study Number)
  • Is previous version of
    DOI: 10.3886/ICPSR09721.v1
  • Grubb, Farley. Withering heights: Did indentured servants shrink from an encounter with Malthus? A comment on Komlos. Economic History Review.52, (4), 714-729.1999.
  • Komlos, John. On the nature of the Malthusian threat in the eighteenth century. Economic History Review.52, (4), 730-748.1999.
  • Komlos, John. The height of runaway slaves in colonial America, 1720-1770. Stature, Living Standards, and Economic Development: Essays in Anthropometric History.Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1994.
  • Komlos, John. A Malthusian episode revisited: The height of British and Irish servants in colonial America. Economic History Review.46, (4), 768-782.1993.

Update Metadata: 2015-08-05 | Issue Number: 8 | Registration Date: 2015-06-15

Komlos, John (1992): Descriptors and Measurements of the Height of Runaway Slaves and Indentured Servants in the United States, 1700-1850. Archival Version. Version: v0. ICPSR - Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research. Dataset.