May 17, 2011
By Elisabeth Grant
The May issue of Perspectives on History contains a series of articles on political history today (read more in our recent blog post), including Rosemarie Zagarri’s examination of the A New Nation Votes (NNV) database. Her article explores how the data from the NNV project has uncovered formerly forgotten elections (including a special election for Henry Clay) and interesting controversies (for example, in 1824 a number of voters inadvertently voted for Andrew Jackson when they meant to vote for John Quincy Adams). Today, we take a quick look at the NNV site, and what you can find there.
About the Project
A New Nation Votes is a work in progress and currently includes digitized data from 18,146 elections, representing 54% of the overall collection. When the project is complete it will contain the election returns from the 25 states and territories that existed from 1787 to 1825. Collaborators on the project include Philip J. Lampi, who “has been collecting election returns for the past 40 years,” the American Antiquarian Society, and the Digital Collections and Archives at Tufts University.
The homepage of the site offers a number of browsing options. Search by candidate by choosing the first letter of their last name. Or, search by political office (like Assistant Assessor, City Council, Convention President, Vice President, even Door Keeper). Also check out all elections by year (for example, all the elections of 1787, organized by state). And finally, browse all the elections for each state, organized by year (here is Alabama).
A Quick Search option on the left of the homepage allows you to search by keyword, state, or year. Or, select the Advanced Search to also search by keyword, state, and year, as well as office, candidate, party, and election type.
Those interested in conducting their own analysis can download the entire A New Nation Votes dataset or the dataset for a single state.
If you’re interested in this project, you may also want to check out Voting America, a site that maps United States politics from 1840 to 2008. We featured the Voting America site on AHA Today in 2008.