Gender-Ratio Map Shows Where The Men Were In 1870

Historical Treasures, Oddities, And Delights
Dec. 9 2013 3:20 PM

Gender-Ratio Map Shows Where The Men Were In 1870

The Vault is Slate's history blog. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @slatevault, and find us on Tumblr. Find out more about what this space is all about here.

This map comes from Francis Amasa Walker’s 1874 Statistical Atlas of the United States, an early exercise in data visualization which was compiled using findings from the 1870 census. (A few months ago, I shared another map from this atlas, showing the distribution of wealth.)

Because of the mapmaker's visual choices, the map reads as a representation of maleness. The white areas of the country are where women are to be found “in excess,” and the purple sections show places where males outnumber females. In the darkest-purple areas, the population was more than 20 percent out of balance, with males predominating.

The document is a striking visual record of the femaleness of the Southeast, half a decade after the end of the Civil War. While numbers of enlisted soldiers in the Confederate Army and Civil War casualties (on both sides) are difficult to assess, due to lost and damaged archives, this map shows how the population of the South suffered proportionally more from the loss of men in the war.

Advertisement

The purplest areas are massed around the frontier. In Kansas, Michigan, and Texas, some areas show a more than 20 percent skew toward the male. When pursuing male-dominated frontier jobs, like logging, surveying, and farming, men often moved west alone, marrying or sending for their wives later. In 1870, with westward migration in full swing, the demographic effects on the rest of the country are particularly easy to see.

Click on the map below to arrive at a zoomable version, or visit its page on the David Rumsey Map Collection website.

PredominatingSexFinal
"Map of predominating sex showing the local excess of males or of females in the distribution of population over the territory of the United States east of the 100th Meridian. Compiled from the statistics of population at the ninth census 1870." By Francis A. Walker. (Julius Bien, Lith., 1874)

David Rumsey Map Collection.

TODAY IN SLATE

History

Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.

Doublex

Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
Damned Spot
Sept. 30 2014 9:00 AM Now Stare. Don’t Stop. The perfect political wife’s loving gaze in campaign ads.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
  Life
Quora
Sept. 30 2014 9:32 AM Why Are Mint Condition Comic Books So Expensive?
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal. But… What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:36 AM Almost Humane What sci-fi can teach us about our treatment of prisoners of war.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath The Methane Lakes of Titan?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.