Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Trade Data Sources: Historical Data

Electronic Access to Older Data

Paper and Microfiche Historical Sources

Some of these sources have data going back further in time than the electronic sources.

United States Federal Government Publications
A chart in the right-hand column lists major federal trade series in the Public Documents and Maps Collection on the 2nd floor of Perkins Library, the time periods that they cover, their formats (e.g., paper, microfiche, electronic), the numerical commodity code system used by each, and the degree of specificity of the commodities listed in each (the number of digits of the numerical code).  Microfiche can be copied to paper in the Microforms area on the 1st floor of the Bostock Library.

Pros: Long time series available for historical research, going back much further than electronic sources, to the mid-to early-20th century.
Cons: Not in electronic form. Can be tedious to use. Only US data.

Commodity Trade Statistics
Coding: 4-digit SITC
Years: We have paper issues for 1980-1992 at the LSC; some later editions available in the Index to International Statistics microfiche collection. 

Produced by the UN, this is the predecessor of the UN Comtrade database. Paper volumes are in the UN Collection at  ST/ESA/STAT/Ser. D/ Use the ProQuest Statistical Insight database to determine the volume needed. Search for <Commodity Trade Statistics> and use the facets in the left colunm to narrow to the country you need.  This gives the IIS microfiche number (not all years were filmed) and some information (except for volume number) that can help find the paper issue. There is also a "Cumulative Index" at the beginning of the paper volumes, covering the previous two years, which gives you the volume number and fascicle ("Fasc." or issue) number.

Pros: Easy to use once you find the volume with your country. Can handle any country-to-country pair.
Cons: Limited years of coverage. Awkward to find volume with a particular country. Only 4-digit level of detail.  The data should all be in the electronic UN Comtrade database.

Statistics of Foreign Trade: Series C (1969-1980) and Foreign trade. Series C, Trade by commodities (1959-1968)
Coding: SITC, level of detail varies over years
Years: 1950's to recent

Produced by the OECD, this is the paper equivalent to the electronic International Trade by Commodities Statistics (ITCS) database in  OECD iLibrary (which has data back to 1961). Recent decades give 2-digit SITC level of detail.  Older ones may have up to 5-digit level of detail. Found in the Perkins/Bostock stacks at HF1016 .C6665 

Pros: Long years of coverage (earliest one may have years prior to 1959).  Lots of partner countries.
Cons: Recent volumes not very detailed. One of partner countries must be an OECD member or one of a few others.

Foreign (FT) Trade Series

Disclaimer: This is a guide to detailed U.S. import/export data, primarily in book and microfiche format in the Public Documents and Maps Department on the 2nd floor of Perkins library.  It is not comprehensive, nor is it necessarily entirely accurate with regard to completeness of holdings within a year range. There is even older data in the Public Documents and Maps shelf list. Please ask for help.

Note: The "Schedule" in the titles or subtitles of the paper reports (e.g., A, B, or E) refers to the Tariff Schedule under which the data is collected. This may differ from the code system used to report the data.

"Code system" listed below represents how the data is organized in a report, according to the section entitled "Commodity Classification" in its introduction. The U.S. adopted the Harmonized System first in 1989; before then, they used the TSUSA system.  The SITC system has been used to publish some data simultaneously with the other two.  To create a long time series, you may have to determine how a particular commodity is coded using several different systems, but try to use the following charts and read the code definitions carefully to make sure your data is comparable across years.

More explanation of the coding systems can be found in the tab on that subject.  

"Digits" refers to the number of numerical digits (i.e., the specificity of the commodities).

"ASI" refers to the microfiche American Statistics Index collection in the Public Documents and Maps Dept.

FT 1xx, 2xx Series: IMPORTS
Report Series Code System Digits Years we have Media Call Number
FT135 SITC, revised (1961) 7 1967-1970 book C3.164:FT135/
FT135 SITC, revised (1961) 7 1971-1975 book C56.210:FT135/
FT135 SITC, revised (1961) 7 1976-1977 book C3.164:FT135/
FT135 SITC, rev. 2 7 1978-1980 book C3.164:FT135/
FT135 SITC, rev. 2 7 1981-1987, Oct88 fiche C3.164:FT135/ or ASI
FT246 TSUSA 7 1965-1970 book C3.164:FT246/
FT246 TSUSA 7 1971-1973 book C56.210:FT246/
FT246 TSUSA 7 1974-1980 book C3.164:FT246/
FT246 TSUSA 7 1981,83-87 fiche C3.164:FT246/ or ASI
FT247 Harmonized 10 1989-1993 fiche C3.164:FT247/ or ASI


FT 4xx Series: EXPORTS
Report Series Code System Digits Years we have Media Call Number
FT410 SITC, revised (1961) 7 way back-1971 book C3.164:FT410/
FT410 SITC, revised (1961) 7 1972-1975 book C56.210:FT410/
FT410 SITC, revised (1961) 7 1976-1977 book C3.164:FT410/
FT410 SITC, rev. 2 7 1978-1980 book C3.164:FT410/
FT410 SITC, rev. 2 7 1981-1987 fiche C3.164:FT410/ or ASI
FT446 TSUSA 7 1978 fiche C3.164:FT446/ or ASI
FT446 TSUSA 7 1979-1980 book C3.164:FT446/
FT446 TSUSA 7 1981-1984, 86-88 fiche C3.164:FT446/ or ASI
FT447 Harmonized 10 1989-1993 fiche C3.164:FT447/ or ASI


FT 9xx Series and Electronic Products: IMPORTS & EXPORTS
Report Series Code System Digits Years we have Media Call Number
FT925 SITC, rev. 3 5 1990 fiche C3.164:FT925/ or ASI
FT925 SITC, rev. 3 5 1991-1994 book C3.164:FT925
FT947 Harmonized 6 1992-1995 fiche C3.164:FT947
Import/Export CD-ROMs Harmonized 10 1989-1996 CD Tower Public Docs. Dept.
Stat-USA (web) Harmonized 10 1994-1996 web
USA Trade Harmonized 2,4,6,10 1994-1996 CD Tower Public Docs. Dept.