Which States Had the Most People in 1913 and 2013?

17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, January 3, 1913: I’m so sleepy for I’m keeping later hours with my books Perhaps the thing will work all right after all. Hope it does.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Grandma was still trying to keep her New Year’s resolution to study harder—though she complained both on January 2 and 3 about being sleepy.

A hundred years ago students memorized more things than they do now.  Might Grandma have been required to memorize geography facts such the names of the five states with the most people ? . . . and  the five states with the fewest people.

Rank of States by Population, 1913 and 2013


I was surprised to discover how much the state ranks have changed over the last 100 years. In 1913, Pennsylvania—where Grandma lived— was the second most populous state in the US; now it is the sixth largest.

And, a hundred years ago, California was the 13th most populous state—today it is the state with the most people.

For those who are interested in the details about where I got the data for the table–I assumed that the population did not change between 1910 and 1913 and used data from the 1910 census for the 1913 estimates. I assumed that the population in 2013 is the same as it was in 2012. The 2013 estimates are based on April 1, 2012 estimates of the US population which were adjusted estimates based on the 2010 US Census.

22 thoughts on “Which States Had the Most People in 1913 and 2013?

  1. I guess it took a while to get out west, but once people get there, it’s so swell they stay. I’m surprised California is number 1 though. New York seems so crowded.

  2. Great statistics. It will be interesting to compare the numbers during the years of the current recession (although some would like for us to think it is behind us). We aren’t moving as often and not as far, as in from state to state. In the time of my aunt, her grandmother moved from another state to Kansas and my aunt wanted to move out of Kansas to a big city for excitement. This was not going over well with her family.

    1. Some people must have been really adventurous a hundred years ago.I’m betting that North Dakota will increase a little in rank over the next couple years. It is booming with an oil boom.

  3. Mississippi from 21 to 31, that’s a big drop…I remember memorizing the list of presidents, poems, speeches, state capitols, etc., and that was not a hundred years ago, lol…Miss Helena’s good study habits will reward her.

    1. For some reason I have warm fuzzy memories of memorizing state capitals. I think that I enjoyed the attention that I got from my mother and others when they quizzed me about the capitals when I was trying to memorize them.

  4. I found that interesting too about PA, and now Texas is the second, I can’t help but wonder if it is because most of Pennsylvanians moved to either Texas or Florida. It seems about 30 yrs there was a big migration to Texas as people searched for jobs.

    1. I’m so glad you thought of me. The article is absolutely wonderful. It’s interesting how the “perfect woman” weighed 171 pounds in 1912–it makes me feel good about myself. 🙂

      1. You have always found such interesting tidbits on every day life of folks “back then”, and I’m sure that thoughts of body image were just as troubling to the teenage girls of 1913 as they are now.

        As for me, I don’t know if I should say I’m not near as close the the ideal, or if I should just say I’m more “ideal” than most. 😉

    1. Interesting. . . I won’t have thought about the role of air conditioning in making some areas more hospitable; but now that you say it, I’m sure that you’re right.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s