“25 Years of IPUMS Data,” the current IPUMS/MPC archive exhibit, highlights a dynamic quarter center history of data innovation at the University of Minnesota. In the late 1980s, the Social History Research Laboratory at the University of Minnesota’s History Department proposed “the creation of a single integrated microdata series composed of public use samples for every year … with the exception of the 1890 census, which was destroyed by fire.” The primary aim was to make the U.S. census microdata “as compatible over time as possible while losing little, if any, of the detail in the original datasets” (Integrated Public Use Microdata Series: A Prospectus).
TerraPop recently launched TerraScope, a map-based portal for exploring the data in the TerraPop collection. The TerraPop collection includes census data from over 160 countries around the world, as well as environmental data describing land cover, land use, and climate. With such a broad range of data available, selecting a study area for which data are available to study a particular question or, conversely, determining the types of research questions that can be studied within an area of interest can be challenging.
Bethel University Professor of History Diana L. Magnuson is documenting the growth of the Minnesota Population Center. Believing that preserving institutional memory is vital, the Center is supporting Magnuson’s work to capture oral histories of past and present MPC faculty and staff.
This is the second in a three-part series, with oral histories from the information technology (IT) side of the MPC. For over 16 years, the IT staff has collaborated with the MPC research staff to recode and disseminate data, develop specialized software, and make research more efficient. The “secret sauce of the MPC” is the longstanding synergistic collaboration between IT and research staff.