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Emergency Preservation of Federal Bankruptcy Court Records, 1940-2000


This research project documents long-run trends in personal bankruptcy, with special emphasis on the use of the bankruptcy law at the local level and among women.

Existing sources of data on bankruptcy are inadequate for careful analysis local or disaggregated trends. In order to facilitate basic research on this important, timely, and policy-relevant topic, original bankruptcy case files, many of which will soon be destroyed because of the high cost of storing them, are entered into a data set. The project preserves a 1% sample of bankruptcy cases filed Maryland and Eastern Virginia from 1940-2000 with a further data set covering the entire U.S. from passage of the 1898 Bankruptcy Act to the roll-out of electronic bankruptcy records. The case files contain detailed data about household and business finance which will enable a wide range of research on the impact of financial innovations and instability on households and firms.