Lecture to discuss techniques for working with undocumented data

Helping a history professor examine U.S. public opinion in the 1930s and ’40s using old surveys required him to turn archaeologist, says Dan Edelstein, an academic data specialist in the Leddy Library.

He will discuss the experience in a free public lecture, “The Data Consultant as Archaeologist: Digging for meaning in World War II era U.S. public opinion surveys,” Friday, May 18, at 11 a.m. in room 302, West Leddy Library.

His presentation will discuss techniques for making undocumented data usable. Through creative use of other, documented variables and some contextual knowledge, the intrepid researcher was able to figure out which code represented which religion in a 1941 survey, and identify Black respondents in a 1940 survey using a variable labelled economic — among other feats.

As a bonus, learn how Roper wanted 1946 interviewers to handle stupid-looking respondents. Edelstein’s lecture is part of the Librarian Research Series.

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