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State Legislators Database

Comprehensive database of all state legislators in office from at least 1971 to present, including legislator characteristics from 1971 to present and leadership positions from 1977 to present.


Uses specific to these data beyond the general uses already listed include:

  • Analyses of the legislative process in particular

  • Analyses of the impact of term limits

  • Impact of legislator race and gender on the “substantive” representation of minorities and women

  • Track legislative tenure over time

  • Give scholars ready-made lists of legislators to work with when examining roll-call votes


  • African-American, Asian, Latino and Cuban status from 1971-2019.


  • Year of birth from 1971-2015 for about 85% of bienniums. These data were double entered by workers and discrepancies still need to be resolved.


  • Gender from 1971-2019. Gender was coded from names, but names with “ambiguous” genders have been followed up on, and this method has been validated for about half the states from historic lists of female legislators. These data need to be cleaned.


  • Chamber/party leader status and committee chair status from 1977 and on. These data were double entered by workers and need to be cleaned.


  • Legislators linked with the state legislative election returns database so that tenure and election information can be brought in.


  • Tenure of legislators coming to office before 1970 was traced back in time to avoid the “beginning of dataset” problem.


  • Comprehensive lists of legislators who came to office via special election or appointment that are not in the state legislative election returns database have been obtained for around half the states. These data were double entered by workers and need to be cleaned.


  • Optical character recognition of Supplement #1 to the Book of the States back to 1945 & other historic rosters for identification of partial term legislators, legislator home addresses, and building measures of non-continuous tenure. These data must be cleaned.


This database lays the groundwork for others to extend it, especially if they utilize the state government primary sources collection described in another section. Tools have also been created to make entering information from primary sources more efficient.

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