New York Religion 1855-1865

Data Archive > U.S. Surveys > General Population > Local/Regional > Others > Summary


The 1855 and 1865 New York state censuses include a wide range of social, political and economic indicators for every town and city in the state of New York (a total of 942 "places" in 1865 and 918 in 1855). Included in the social indicators were data on all 53 active denominations in 1865 and 42 denominations in 1855. This file includes selected social and demographic indicators, and a measure of church attendance for all denominations in 1855 and 1865. The data contained in this file include only a small portion of the New York censuses. State censuses were also conducted in 1845 and 1875.

Data File
Cases: 883
Variables: 213
Weight Variable: None
Data Collection
Date Collected: 1855, 1865
Collection Procedures
Data were entered from microfiche copies of the census volumes. The microfiche were obtained from: New York State Library -- Inter-Library Loan, Cultural Educational Center, Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12230.
Sampling Procedures
Census data for every town and city in the state of New York (a total of 942 "places" in 1865 and 918 in 1855) were recorded for basic social and economic indicators included in the file.
Principal Investigators
Avery Guest and Roger Finke
Related Publications
Finke, Roger, Avery Guest, and Rodney Stark. 1996. "Mobilizing Local Religious Markets: Religious Pluralism in the Empire State, 1855 to 1865." American Sociological Review 61:203-218.
Additional Variable Information
Seating capacity for 1865 was defined in the census instructions as the "number capable of being seated." (Secretary of the State. 1865. Instructions for Taking the Census of the State of New York in the Year 1865. Weed, Parsons, and Company Printers, pp. 46-47.)

Attendance for 1855 and 1865 was determined as follows: "Usual Number Attending - These inquiries may be made of the person having charge, or any one [sic] familiar with the arrangement, and the ordinary attendance at the church."

(Secretary of the State. 1855. Instructions for Taking the Census of the State of New York in the Year 1855. Weed, Parsons, and Company Printers, pp. 41-42; Secretary of the State. 1865. Instructions for Taking the Census of the State of New York in the Year 1865. Weed, Parsons, and Company Printers, pp. 46-47.)

DIVNDX65 and DIVNDX55 - The religious diversity index is computed using the probability equation: 1 - [(a/z)2 + (b/z)2 + (c/z)2 + (d/z)2...]

Where a, b, c, d and so forth, each represents the number attending a particular denomination, and z represents the total number attending.

POPDEN - Population density is measured as a town's total population divided by the area of the town in square miles. The area in square miles was estimated for most places using previous census reports (see Finke, Guest and Stark, 1996), but total area was unavailable for 64 of the 942 places because of changing boundaries, especially due to annexation.

AREA40 - This is land area of community in square miles (to one decimal place) as reported in:
U.S. Bureau of the Census. 1942. Areas of the United States: 1940.
Sixteenth Census of the United States: 1940. Washington: Government
Printing Office.

Since town boundaries in New York have been relatively fixed over time, the figures should be generally accurate for 1865. However, this is not true of all places. Census data through 1940 were checked to determine boundary changes. The total area of each community has been adjusted accordingly. In a very few cases, the probable 1865 area could not be determined.

PCTILL - This is the estimated proportion illiterate for those 21 and older. It is estimated because we do not know the actual number under 21.

The directions from the census for the category of "Color" state: "If the person be white, no entry is to be made, but if mulatto, write M.; or if black, B. opposite to the name." (Secretary of the State. 1855. Instructions for Taking the Census of the State of New York in the Year 1855. Weed, Parsons, and Company Printers, pp. 19; Secretary of the State. 1865. Instructions for Taking the Census of the State of New York in the Year 1865. Weed, Parsons, and Company Printers, pp. 17-18.)