CRSP Reaches 90-Year Milestone

As of this 2016, the CRSP stock database spans 90 years of data across 15 business cycles. No other data provider can match the breadth, depth, and accuracy of CRSP historical data. Following is a timeline that provides a visual representation of this history, a brief explanation of why 1926 was the chosen date of initiation, and informational charts. In the sidebar are illustrative interactive data reports and academic resources for research.

CRSP Timeline

  • December 31, 1925

    In 1977, the original January 30, 1926, data file was updated in order to make this the initial date

  • January 30, 1926

    The starting point for the original CRSP project data collection. By starting with 1926, the initial study included 35 years of data, including two complete years preceding the 1928-1929 bull market.

  • February 16, 1926

    The Consolidated Stock Exchange ceases trading. NYSE increases in volume and reputation compared to smaller reginal exchanges. This event dovetailed with Fisher and Lorie’s decision to start with 1926 for NYSE listed stocks.

  • 1930

    Primary source material prior to this year is often incomplete or inaccurate. One of the reasons the initial database development project was extended from 6 months to a 3-1/2 year project was due to the difficulty of sourcing and checking early market data. The tedious nature of data validation is discussed in early speeches by Fisher and Lorie.

  • 1932

    U.S. Stocks are down -84%

  • 1946

    The U.S. Stocks are +783% total return

  • 1952

    According to the first share owner census undertaken by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), only 6.5 million Americans owned common stock (about 4.2% of the U.S. population). Today an estimated 45% of Americans have money in the stock market.

  • 1953

    The last year in which daily trading volumes on the NYSE were below one million shares.

  • 1954

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) surpassed its 1929 peak, a full 25 years after the crash.

  • 1959

    Louis Engel (Vice President at Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith) wondered, relative to other asset classes, how have the returns of stocks performed over the long term? He contacted the Chicago Graduate School of Business Associate Dean James Lorie who proposed Merrill fund a study to compile the historical data needed to calculate the returns.

  • 1960

    In March, CRSP is established. Lorie and Professor Lawrence Fisher collaborate on collecting and researching NYSE common stock returns between 1926 and 1960.

  • December 1963

    Professors Lorie and Fisher announced the results of their 3 1/2 year data development and analysis project at the Press Club in New York. The results of the study made headlines across the country.

  • 1964

    Fisher and Lorie findings are published in the Journal of Business in January.

  • 1964

    Development of the master data files completed.

  • 1965

    60 universities are already using CRSP data files for research and educational programs.

  • 1966

    CRSP launches its first indexes.

  • 1971

    Wells Fargo Bank establishes the first index fund: a $6 million fund for Samsonite Corporation's pension program. The fund's director, Mac McQuown, credited Booth professors Myron Scholes and Fisher Black, whom he met through Booth professor and CRSP Board Director Gene Fama.

  • 1973

    The Central Certificate Service, which was introduced in 1968 to handle surging trading volumes, was replaced by the Depository Trust Company in 1973. This meant that, rather than physical stock certificates, investors were now more likely to have their stocks held in electronic form at a central depository.

  • 1974

    Trading hours on the NYSE were extended by 30 minutes to accommodate the growth of the market.

  • 1976

    Individual retirement accounts (IRA) are created by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974, and the first index fund is introduced.

  • August 1982

    For the first time ever, more than 100 million shares traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

  • 1984

    NASDAQ market data dating from 1972 is added.

  • October 19, 1987

    Black Monday: Stock markets around the world crashed, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average had its largest one-day percentage decline at 24.39%. The total U.S. stock markets fell 22.68%.

  • 1991

    NYSE/AMEX high, low and volume extension completed.

  • 1993

    Cap-based indexes, NASDAQ SIC-Based Total Returns Indexes and Proxy added.

  • 1994

    Daily US Treasuries released.

  • 1996

    The CRSP Survivor-Bias-Free US Mutual Fund Database evolved from Mark M. Carhart’s dissertation.

  • 1997

    CRSPAccess Software launched.

  • 1997

    TIPS were first auctioned in January 1997 after the market expressed a strong interest in the inflation-indexed asset class.

  • 1999

    NASDAQ foreign extension added.
    CRSP joined efforts with S&P to create the CRSP/Compustat Database (CCM).
    CRSP enters into agreement with Wharton Research Data Services (WRDS) to allow WRDS to host CRSP databases for academic subscribers.

  • 1999-2002

    CRSP evolved from annual to monthly data update/release cycle.

  • 2002

    This year marks the bottom of the dotcom crash. The Nasdaq Composite lost 78% of its value as it fell from its peak 5046.86 to crash at 1114.11.

  • 2003

    From 2003-2009 CRSP provides total returns daily to NASDAQ for NASDAQ Composite, NASDAQ 100, NASDAQ Biotechnology and ABA NASDAQ Community Bank Indexes.

  • 2005

    Open and NYSE/AMEX Bid/Ask extension added.
    CRSP works with Ziman Center at the Anderson School of Business at UCLA to create the CRSP/Ziman Real Estate Data Series.

  • 2006

    CRSP daily stock database extended from July 2, 1962 back to December 31, 1925, for NYSE common issues.

  • 2007

    CRSPSift User Interface/Data Access Utility launches.
    ARCA Exchange Stock Database extension added.

  • 2007

    The beginning of the subprime meltdown.

  • 2008

    Development of new CRSP Indexes begins.
    Alumnus David Booth gives $300 million to the University of Chicago business school. The school is renamed to Chicago Booth in his honor.

  • 2009

    CRSP stock release now spans 85 years.

  • 2009

    The Wall Street Journal says, “In nearly 200 years of recorded stock-market history, no calendar decade has seen such a dismal performance as the 2000s…Since the end of 1999, stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange have lost an average of 0.5% a year thanks to the twin bear markets this decade. ”

  • 2010

    CRSP TURNS 50!
    CRSP launches new CRSP Indexes with seven real-time capitalization-based investable indexes.

  • 2012

    CRSP Indexes expand to include value and growth style indexes.

  • 2016

    CRSP celebrates 90 years of data.

Why was 1926 significant?  

In early 1960, Chicago Booth Professors Lawrence Fisher and James Lorie were debating a logical starting point for the data collection that would be the inception of CRSP. They ultimately decided that the file needed to start at least one full business cycle before the 1929 stock market crash. By starting with January 30, 1926, the initial study included 35 years of data, including two complete years preceding the 1928-1929 bull market. (In 1977, the file was updated in order to make the initial date of data December 31, 1925.) 

Another major consideration for the initial date of data was the availability of complete and reliable data sources. Primary source material prior to 1930 is often incomplete or inaccurate. Moreover, as of February 16, 1926, the Consolidated Stock Exchange ceased trading. Consolidated had been the chief rival to the NYSE for many years prior to its demise. This increased the distance, in terms of volume and reputation, between NYSE and the many smaller regional exchanges. 

Fisher and Lorie, in their book A Half Century of Returns on Stocks and Bonds, offer this perspective on the value of historical data: 

The reasons for covering as long a time period as we can with consistent methods should  be obvious at this time. Historical data show the kinds of human experience that have taken place, and, perhaps, their relative frequencies. But each period also has its own special features. To ignore all data from the 1920s, 1930s, and early 1940s in estimating the riskiness of investments in common stock—as many did in the late 1960s—now appears to be foolhardy. Older data could be ignored safely only if risk were much better understood. 

Who Are CRSP Historical Market Data Subscribers?


Our Academic subscribers include the leading institutions around the world. In the US, CRSP data is relied on for research and teaching at the top 280+ schools conferring PhDs, MBAs, and undergraduate degrees in math, statistics, accounting, finance, economics, and other related disciplines. Outside the US, CRSP serves more than 190 leading institutions based in 35 countries.


Our Commercial subscribers include the leading asset management firms, including hedge funds, mutual funds, insurance, pension funds and endowments. Our historical research data is relied on for rigorous backtesting and serve as investment performance benchmarks.


In the government segment, CRSP historical data is relied on by researchers in regulatory agencies, Federal Reserve Banks, and other governmental entities.