Censuses offer bountiful but underexploited sources for studies of linguistic usage, especially with their detailed geographic and demographic information about respondents. To demonstrate potential uses of census data, this study explores the regional variation in 1880 U.S. Census respondents when referring to establishments serving alcoholic beverages and to those establishments’ employees. The analysis shows distinct regional patterns of using barkeeper rather than bartender (more common in the South), of referring to a workplace as a tavern (overwhelmingly a Middle Atlantic phenomenon), and of speaking of attending bar rather than tending or keeping it (also concentrated in the Middle Atlantic).

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