History of the Social Statistics Section
(excerpts from Goldfield, Edwin D., "History of the Social Statistics Section",
The American Statistician, May 1990, Vol. 44, No. 2, 84-87.
For most of its history, ASA, despite the evident concentrations of interest of its members, had no sections and few committees. In 1951 a Committee on Statistics in the Social Sciences was formed, with Conrad Taeuber as chair. In 1952 the committee requested the ASA Board of Directors and ASA Council to consider giving it sectional status. The request was discussed at the meeting of the incoming board and council on December 29, 1952. One member foresaw the possibility of jurisdictional dispute between the proposed new section and existing sections, and he recommended creating a liaison mechanism. Another member pointed out that this liaison function was within the province of the Program Committee. Another member asked whether the council members felt that ASA members should be restricted to membership in a single section. It was decided that since no duplication of voting rights was involved, there was no need to impose such a restriction. The request for section status was referred to the Committee on Committees. After its review and endorsement, the board, on October 29, 1953, voted to grant a charter to the Social Statistics Section. It became the fourth ASA section and was allocated seven sessions for the 1954 annual meeting.
One of the first undertakings fo the new section was to send a questionnaire to all ASA members who had signitied interest in a social-statistics section, to determine the kinds of activities that the members wished to be conducted. It also made an analysis of the organizational affiliations of its members, to identify subject groupings.
Responding to one of the indicated areas of interest and to an invitation from the U.S. Bureau fo the Census, the section established a committee on the 1960 census, chaired by Edward B. Olds. In February 1957 the committee sent a letter to section members, soliciting suggestions for improvements in the census. The letter cited the potential of such new developments in census taking as "electronic data processing machinery" and the "self-enumeration schedule." The committee furnished a detail report to the Census Bureau, and Olds wrote a summary article, "Social Statisticians and the Census," which appeared in the December 1957 issue of The American Statistician.
In 1963 the section - responding to an inquiry from the ASA national office as to whether ASA should take a position on the question of race and color classifications in statistics - drafted and approved a resolution urging that race and color data continue to be included in vital statistics and in census and other public records that are used to provide data for statistical and scientific purposes. The resolution was approved by the ASA Council in 1964. A similar resolution was produced and approved in 1984.
In 1981 the section began a practice of appointing a committee on the nomination of ASA Fellows, to identify worthy section members and to make positive efforts to submit nominations.
Past Chairs of the Social Statistics Section