These project pages contain an ongoing and updated dataset on historical energy use, along with methodological discussions and lists of publications related to this work, and those who have participated in the project.

It has been developed out of the project on the global history of energy is based at the Joint Center for History and Economics and the MIT Research Group on History, Energy, and Environment. The project explores how the historical study of energy use and transformation can widen perspectives on economic, social, and environmental processes in the past. It also serves as a forum for the historical discussion of energy in all its forms in a global and comparative context, and supports a series of workshops, lectures and events. 

This site provides a hub for information on energy history. It archives the data assembled by a number of quantitative projects on energy history. These include:

1)The 'Long-term energy and growth' project that has worked to reconstruct historical energy consumption in Europe in a consistent manner, and that provides the evidential underpinning is linked to the volume Power to the People: energy in Europe over the last five centuries

2) ‘Energy and trade’ which provides data on the energy embodied in traded goods over time and will provide data and visualizations of the energy and land inputs into goods as they moved around the world, focusing on the period c.1850-1935. This partly draws on the ‘Who did the dirty work?’ project funded by the Swedish research Council.

3) Energy price data, including time series and visualizations. This energy data archive will be expanded over time to provide updates of European data and datasets for other parts of the world. We welcome submissions for inclusion.

Participants in the project over the period 2011-2016 have included Sunil Amrith (Harvard), Richard Hornbeck (University of Chicago), Philipp Lehmann (Max Planck Institute for the History of Science), Ian Miller (Harvard), Harriet Ritvo (MIT), Emma Rothschild (Harvard), Victor Seow (Cornell), Joshua Specht (Monash), Paul Warde (Cambridge) and Yi Lu (Harvard). The Project is grateful to Paul Warde for providing the content of the site, and to Amy Price and Ian Kumekawa for site design. Any comments or queries should be directed to Amy Price.


The Energy History Project was made possible over the period 2011-2016 by support from the Harvard University Center for the Environment.