In November, our fearless leader, Steve Ruggles, gave his presidential address at the annual Social Science History Association (SSHA) conference in Chicago. It was titled “The Revival of Quantification.” Ruggles describes long-run trends in quantification in history. He also focused on the relationship of historical quantification to political activism, relativism (no absolute truth), and objectivism (one Truth and that Truth is reached through empirical observation).
“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).