Aging in Rural America in the 19th and 20th Centuries

Nancy Tatarek, Ohio University

Historical studies of health and demographics often focus on growth, reproduction or occupational issues. However, as global populations of elderly increase steadily, gerontological studies take on more urgency and importance. Understanding the exact nature of aging and circumstances leading to healthy aging in the past can assist understanding modern day gerontological patterns. Especially lacking are historical perspectives on aging in rural America in the 19th and 20th centuries. The focus of this paper is to analyze patterns of aging in two counties in rural Ohio where the populations were occupied primarily in farming and coal mining. We examine historical death records to obtain age at death and cause of death for the years 1867 to 1908. Complete count census data is used to provide overall population context for the death records. We compare aging across sex, ancestry, nativity, occupation, and county to further understand factors contributing to those in the over 60 years old age grouping.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 263. Geography, Age and Health