Public Use Tape on the Aging of Veterans of the Union Army

Surgeons' Certificates 1860-1940: Version S-1 Standardized

California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin Regiments

This data comprise a portion of the historical data collected by the project Early Indicators of Later Work Levels, Disease, and Death (EI). The goal of this project is to construct datasets suitable for longitudnal studies of factors affecting the aging process. The primary sample for the Early Indicators project consists of 35,747 white males mustered into the Union Army during the Civil War.

There are three principal datasets in the EI project. The largest is the "Military, Pension, and Medical Records," which is derived from miliary-related documents housed in the National Archives in Washington, D.C. These include both war-time records and applications made by veterans for pension support. Associated with this these pension applications are detailed physical examinations completed by physicians, certifying the veterans' health and disability status. Information from these examinations is collected in the second major dataset, known as the "Surgeons' Certificates" dataset. Finally, the "U.S Federal Census Records" dataset contains the information that is available in the U.S. Federal Censuses of 1850, 1860, 1900, and 1910. About 62% of the veterans can be successfully linked to census documents. All individuals in the Early Indicators sample can be linked by a unique indentification number recidnum. All Early Indicators data were collected under the direction of the Department of Economics at Brigham Young University (BYU) and processed by the Center for Population Economics (CPE) at the University of Chicago.

Each observation in this dataset contains the information obtained from one surgeon's certificate, which is the record of one official physical examination. A typical surgeon's certificate contains basic information such as age, occupation, place of residence, and military experience. It also contains the veteran's statement about his health and disability and, most importantly, the findings, diagnoses, and observations of the examining physicians.

The dataset consists of 81,877 observations on 2,312 variables, from a total of 16,713 individuals for whom surgeon's certificates can be found. These data can be linked to the other EI datasets by the recruit's identification number, recidnum

A Data Extraction System and More Information on the "Surgeons' Certificates" data set is available at the Center for Population Economics at the University of Chicago.

The .Z or .zip data files are in axt format. An axt-format data file has one variable per line and a blank line between records. Both ".Z" and ".zip" files can be uncompressed with uncompression software. To check ability to uncompress these files, download the small files compress.Z or They give an example of how to read in .Z and .zip ASCII files into SAS for UNIX without decompressing the files. Note that the cport file is not transferable to other formats using software such as Stat/Transfer. Also, may of the observations in the Early Indicators dataset are over three times wider than the maximum width allowed by Stata. To download files in Internet Explorer, right click on them and select "Save Target As...". If the pdf documents appear to be all blank pages, get the latest Acrobat Reader at

Internal users can access the data from a UNIX shell at /homes/data/surgcerts or on an NBER PC via Network Neighborhood --> NBER --> home --> data --> surgcerts

Works referring to the dataset or codebook should contain the following citation:

Fogel, R. W. (2001) Public Use Tape on the Aging of Veterans of the Union Army:
       Surgeons' Certificates, 1860-1940, Version S-1 Standardized.  Center for
       Population Economics, University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, and
       Department of Economics, Brigham Young University.

Updates and changes

Data -- UNIX-compressed ASCII (31 MB) dis.axt.Z
Data -- Pkzipped ASCII (31 MB)
Data -- UNIX-compressed SAS cport file (35 MB) dis.cport.Z
Data -- Pkzipped SAS cport file (35 MB)
Data -- UNIX-compressed SPSS por file (35 MB) dis.por.Z
Data -- Pkzipped SPSS por file (35 MB)
Codebook -- PDF dis.pdf
Codebook -- Postscript format
SAS program -- makes a 100 MB sas data file from the ASCII data
SAS program -- exports the cport file to a sas dataset
Data Dictionary dis.txt
Alphabetic Variable Index dis.idx

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Last Update: March 19, 2002 Created by Jean Roth November 10, 2000
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