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The early indicators of later work levels, disease and death

This statistical website probes the impact of war on Civil War veterans and their families. “Union Army Data” started under the direction of economic historian Roger W. Fogel, and transitioned to Dora L. Costa’s leadership after Fogel’s death in 2013. The scholars began the project to track issues of chronic disease, employment patterns, mortality, and early- and later-life diseases to see how those factors influenced a person’s work and living environment.

In the process of its research, the team realized that Union soldiers’ compiled military service records, pensions, carded medical records, surgeon certificates and U.S. Census records (1850-1940) offered an incredible amount of data that could be tracked to measure the team’s areas of interest over extended periods of time.

The site may take some getting used to for those without any background in statistics, but don’t let all of the data intimidate you. There are videos to explain how to search the wealth of information, including the “Union Army sample” that contains almost 40,000 white Federal soldiers who served in 331 representative volunteer infantry companies.

There is a Camp Sumter, the prison at Andersonville, Ga., sample for those interested in prisoner-of-war experiences, and a U.S. Colored Troops sample. There are samples of veterans who lived much longer than others, as well as men who came from urban areas. Clearly, there is information here for anyone who wants to investigate the postwar lives of Union veterans. I recommend watching several of the video tutorials, which offer instructions on how to extract the data that will be most useful for your research.

This site may not be as artistic or have the narrative descriptions that accompany traditional history-driven sites, but “Union Army Data” offers an astonishing amount of information on veterans that, until recently, has remained largely unknown. —