The Journal of Economic History


Changes in the Level of Literacy in a New Community of Early America

Robert E. Gallmana1

a1 Professor of Economics and History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


When arrayed in time series, the rates of signature literacy of free persons in colonial Perquimans County, North Carolina, exhibit the xs222A-shaped pattern found in the records of many other new communities of early America. In Perquimans, the pattern was due to coincident movements in the literacy rates of immigrants and natives of the county. The initial drop was associated with pronounced political and social disorder; the rise, with improved political stability and with demographic and economic growth.