J. David Hacker has won the John T. Hubbell Prize for the best article published in Civil War History during 2011. His study, “A Census Based Count of the Civil War Dead,” Civil War History (December 2011), was selected by the journal’s editorial advisory board. The prize earns the recipient a $1,000 award. Hacker’s article challenges the long-accepted, although not well-supported, estimate of 620,000 soldier deaths. Using recently released microdata samples from nineteenth-century censuses to reassess this number, he compares male survival rates between 1860 and 1870 with male survival rates in surrounding censuses. He concludes that the traditional statistic understates the number of actual Civil War deaths by approximately 20 percent.
In his estimation, the most probable number of deaths attributable to the Civil War is 752,000, although the upper bounds of his data could be as many as 851,000 deaths. These results have far-reaching consequences, encouraging historians to rethink assumptions not only about the war’s human cost, but the ways in which we try to measure and comprehend the size of that cost.
J. David Hacker is associate professor of history at Binghamton University, SUNY. His research focuses on the demographic history of the United States before 1940.
He has published articles on trends and determinants in mortality, economic and anthropometric correlates of first marriage, the onset of long-term fertility decline, the impact of parental religiosity on fertility, and the effect of the Civil War on southern marriage patterns. His previous work has appeared in the Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Historical Methods, and the Journal of Southern History, among other publications.
Awarded annually and funded by a donor through The Kent State University Press, the John T. Hubbell Prize recognizes the extraordinary contribution to the field of its namesake, who served as editor of Civil War History for thirty-five years.