Hariett Chappel Owsley Collection
Scope and Contents
Frank L. Owsley is recognized as one of the first, if not the first, historian to make use of quantitative methods. These charts were made to obtain statistical data for several doctoral dissertations directed by Professor Owsley; for his own book, Plain Folk of the Old South, and for the books of two of the compilers, Clark's Tennessee Yeoman, and Mooney's Slavery in Tennessee. Charts compiled by Herbert Weaver included in this collection were used for his dissertation which was published under the title Mississippi Farmers. Dissertations available in JUL Special Collections, directed by Professor Owsley, and using quantitative methods, include those by Harry Coles (on Louisiana), and Davis Applewhite (on South Carolina).
The charts themselves represent a composite of Schedules I (land ownership), H (slave ownership), and IV (products of agriculture) of the unpublished Federal Census for Tennessee, 1850 and 1860. Schedule IV contains a wealth of information, including number of acres of improved and unimproved land and its value, livestock and its value, crops raised, home manufactures, etc.
When she processed the charts at the State Library, Mrs. Owsley changed the organization of the material, making it easier to use. The Weaver charts retain the original organization, and contain the same data as the Owsley charts for selected Mississippi counties.
Of special interest is a series of charts compiled from the published census for the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee. These charts were made for all of the counties of these states, and figures for the years 1840, 1850, and 1860 have been placed in adjacent columns so that comparison is convenient. Information regarding land, livestock, crops, population, slaves, cities, schools, literacy, etc. is included. These charts are an excellent entry device into the rest of the Collection as they make it easier to select representative counties to be studied in detail. These charts were compiled by Harriet C. Owsley and are referred to in the works of Weaver and Mooney as the Owsley Charts. Also included in this collection is a series of color slides used in Plain Folk of the Old South.
The Owsley Charts were compiled by hand, with only the aid of a calculating machine to compute percentages. Besides being a pioneering effort in the field of quantitative history, they will remain invaluable research materials.
- circa 1939-1945
6 Linear Feet (3 flat boxes; 2 oversize flat folders)
Language of Materials
The Owsley Charts were compiled at Vanderbilt University circa 1939-45 through the combined efforts of Harriet Chappell Owsley, Blanche Henry Clark, and Chase Mooney, under the direction of Frank Lawrence Owsley, Professor of History. The charts themselves represent a composite of Schedules I (land ownership), H (slave ownership), and IV (products of agriculture) of the unpublished Federal Census for Tennessee, 1850 and 1860.
Offsite Storage, Special Collections & Archives
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The Owsley Charts were compiled at Vanderbilt University circa 1939-45 through the combined efforts of Harriet Chappell Owsley, Blanche Henry Clark, and Chase Mooney, under the direction of Frank Lawrence Owsley, Professor of History. The compilers deposited the charts in the Manuscripts Section, Tennessee State Library and Archives in 1959. They remained there until Vanderbilt, at its Joint University Libraries, established a manuscripts collection. When the charts were transferred to JUL in 1975, the State Library retained a microfilm copy.
The Weaver charts, a part of the larger study, were added to the collection in the State Library after 1959, and were transferred to JUL in 1975 with the rest of the collection.
- Finding Aid for the Hariett Chappel Owsley Collection
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
Part of the Vanderbilt University Special Collections Repository
Special Collections Library
1101 19th Ave. S.
Nashville TN 37212 United States