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Prices and Wages by Decade: Introduction

Links to government documents and primary sources listing retail prices for products and services, as well as wages for common occupations.

Prices and Wages by Decade

This guide points to wages and consumer prices reported in primary sources for each decade back to the 1700s.  Whenever possible, we refer to retail price and wage averages found in government publications.  When those are not available, we use figures listed in other contemporary sources such as commercial catalogs, travel guides and newspapers.  

This site is based on freely available historic resources, mostly from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis FRASER®  digital library and the HathiTrust Digital Library.  To comprehend historic prices and wage values in current terms, we recommend the website

This website is managed by Marie Concannon of the University of Missouri Library's Government Information Department.  We welcome questions from students of all ages and the general public.

Government Information Department
Phone (573) 882-0748

Thanks to MU Library employees Cade McKnelly, Jade Neeley, Lindsay Yungbluth, Catherine Hutinett, David Steinmeyer, Amanda Krewson, Kamilah Jones, Scott Peterson, Carrie Carter, and Guinevere Lawson, as well as to Pamela Campbell of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis' FRASER®  digital library, all of whom provided assistance in the enhancement of this resource.

Website Awards

awardHistory / Genealogy Achievement Award, 2022
American Library Assoc., RUSA History Section

awardExcellence in Reference
& Adult Services Award, 2022

American Library Assoc. 
Reference & User Services Association (RUSA)