Lecture – The Child Toileth Not, But the Statistician Does

Thomas Stapleford of the University of Notre Dame will speak next week on the history of quantiative research.

Behind the neatly printed tables that comprise the public face of a successful quantitative survey lies an enormous amount of concealed labor. This talk unveils some of this hidden history by examining the work of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), between the years 1890 and 1913.

During these years, the bureau’s leadership shifted its approach to fieldwork in a way that paralleled shifts in industrial labor practices over a similar period. To illustrate this shift, I examine a major investigation of child labor conducted by the bureau in 1907–1909. The problems and controversy that emerged during this project exemplify both the difficulties facing labor statisticians at the turn of the century and the labor troubles that drove the BLS to reconfigure its own operating procedures.

This lecture is sponsored by the Science, Technology, Medicine & Society Program, ICPSR, & the Department of History.

  • Date:  Monday, February 13
  • Time: 4-5:30
  • Location:  1014 Tisch Hall

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