A census taker at work.Revolving three-variable scatterplot.

HISTORY 590 [7739] ~ Spring 2006

Prof. Gerald Zahavi
Dept. of History, University at Albany-SUNY

Classroom: G-24 (History Smart Classroom, Science Library)
Course Schedule: Mon.. 4:40-6:40
Office: Ten Broeck 202
Phone: 518-442-4780
Office Hrs: Mon. & Tues 2:00-4:00
[email protected]




The proliferation of innovative computer-based information technologies and the growing utilization of quantitative methods in social, political, and economic history have made it increasingly necessary for students to become familiar with more technical bodies of knowledge than previous generations of historians. This course aims to provide students with an orientation to a a number of new, and for some, indispensable, methodologies and tools for accessing, collecting, and analyzing social, economic, and political historical data.

History 590 has several specific and complementary goals. The first is to familiarize students with the use of descriptive and inferential statistics in historical research: levels of measurement, contingency tables, sampling, tests of statistical significance, measures of association, regression, and so on. Associated with this objective is a stress on learning to read and evaluate articles and monographs that employ a variety of statistical techniques and measures.

This is also a "hands on" course, where you will be trained in the practice of quantitative history. Members if the class are expected to plan and carry out quantitative research projects of their own. A series of short exercises and book/article reviews will prepare you for a more extended and ambitious research paper utilizing skills learned over the course of the semester. The final quantitative research project, due at the end of the semester, is an important component of the course.

A final goal of History 590 is to acquaint students with computers and computer applications useful in quantitative analysis, qualitative historical research, and teaching. These include: statistical analysis programming; database creation and management; computer graphics; accessing information networks, and the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) in historical research.


1] Robert William Fogel and Stanley L. Engerman, Time on the Cross (W. W. Norton & Company, 1995; reprint, with new introduction, of 1974 ed.)

2] Loren Haskins and Kirk Jeffrey, Understanding Quantitative History. (McGraw Hill, 1990). [Currently out of print; available on reserve].

3] Marija J. Norusis, SPSS Guide to Data Analysis 13.0 (Prentice Hall, 2005).

4] Anne Kelly Knowles, Ed., Past Time, Past Place: GIS for History (Esri Press, 2002).

5] History 590 Readings: misc. journal articles and chapters on methodology ( packet available at Shipmates). Additional readings may be announced in class during the course of the semester. These will be placed on electronic reserve.


StatSoft: Electronic Statistics Textbook [http://www.statsoft.com/textbook/stathome.html] This is a comprehensive web-based statistics textbook.

DATA ARCHIVES: Most of the following list of data archives and sources come from the University at Albany Library's excellent "Sociology Resources on the Internet". Most of the assigned projects will utilize data available from the Inter-University Consortium for Political & Social Research (ICPSR). You may have trouble downloading data from ICPSR off campus; if so, use public access computers on campus to download it to a floppy disk.

  • Australian National University - Social Science Data Archives (SSDA).
  • Council of European Social Science Data Archives. Information about European Archives.
  • Inter-university Consortium for Political & Social Research (ICPSR).
  • Murray Research Center, Radcliffe College.
  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • CenStats: Includes a variety of applications, including the census tract street locator, zip code business patterns, USA Counties, etc.
  • CIESIN's Demography Home Page: Part of an initiative to identify, document, and provide simple access to demographic information on the U.S. Provides access to data resources, supporting documentation (codebooks, data dictionaries, citations), some extraction tools for data access, and connects to an anonymous ftp service for data file retrieval.
  • County and City Data Book: Find the latest official statistics for 1,078 cities, all 3,141 U.S. counties, and 11,097 places of 2,500 or more inhabitants
  • Current Population Surveys A comprehensive body of data on the employment and unemployment experience of the Nation's population, classified by age, sex, race, etc.
  • Data FERRET The Census Bureau's and the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics(BLS) joint project that enables users to access and manipulate large demographic and economic data sets on line.
  • FedStats A searchable guide to statistics produced by more than 70 Federal agencies.
  • Government Information Sharing Project Access to a variety of federal statistical information sources, primarily demographic and economic. Hosted by Oregon State University. User-friendly interface.
  • Historical Census Statistics on the Foreign-Born Population of the United States: 1850 to 1990 Contains "decennial census data on several characteristics of the foreign-born population, including country of birth, length of residence in the United States, citizenship and age-sex distribution."
  • High School and Beyond High School and Beyond describes the activities of seniors and sophomores as they progressed through high school, postsecondary education, and into the workplace. The data span 1980 through 1992 and include parent, teacher, high school transcript, student financial aid records, and college transcripts in addition to student questionnaires. From the National Center for Education Statistics.
  • Historical United States Census Data Browser Data on the population and economy of the U.S. from 1790 to 1970 by state and county.
  • Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) Twenty-five high-precision samples of the American population drawn from thirteen federal censuses 1850 to 1990). A rich source of quantitative information on long-term changes in the American population.
  • National Crime Victimization Survey This is the primary source of information on criminal victimization. Data are collected annually from a nationally representative sample of roughly 49,000 households comprising more than 100,000 persons on the frequency, characteristics and consequences of criminal victimization in the United States.
  • National Longitudinal Surveys (NLS) A nationally representative sample of 12,686 young men and young women who were 14 to 22 years of age when they were first surveyed in 1979. Data collected during the yearly surveys of the NLSY chronicle changes in their lives and provide researchers an opportunity to study the life course experiences of a group of young adults who can be considered representative of all American men and women born in the late 1950s and early 1960s. From the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics Online Data about all aspects of criminal justice in the United States presented in over 600 tables from more than 100 sources.
  • State and Metropolitan Area Data Book Data from the 5th edition (1997-1998) are available here. Also available are lists of state and metropolitan area rankings.
  • Statistical Abstract of the United States The Statistical Abstract contains a collection of statistics (over 1400 tables and graphs) on social, economic, and international subjects. Data for 1995-1998 are available in pdf format.
  • Uniform Crime Reports The UCR data are compiled from monthly law enforcement reports or individual crime incident records on the following crimes reported to law enforcement authorities: homicide, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson.
  • U.S. Census Bureau Search for information, view their product catalog, use their data extraction tools from this page.
  • On-line Census Guide: http://www.census-online.com/links/
  • American Religion Data Archive This site at Purdue University provides quantitative data for the study of American religion.
  • Data on the Net A searchable collection of internet sites with statistical data, data catalogs, social sciences data archives, etc. From UC San Diego.
  • Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) An archive of survey data collected from countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Near East.
  • IRSS Public Opinion Poll Question Database Provides keyword access to public opinion polls from the 1960s to the present.
  • LABORSTA: The Labour Statistics Database International labor statistics from the Statistics Branch of the International Labour Organization.
  • Mexican Migration Project The MMP Database contains demographic data on more than 7,000 households in 52 Mexican communities and 500 households in the United States. From the University of Pennsylvania.
  • National Survey of Families and Households A comprehensive survey of American family life. A national sample of over 13,000 respondents was interviewed in 1987-88. The sample was followed up in 1992-94.
  • OFFSTATS: Official Statistics on the Web "...free and easily accessible social, economic and general data from official or similar "quotable" sources, especially those that provide both current data and time series." From the University of Auckland Library.
  • TIMSS International Database Contains many educational statistics collected in more than 40 countries, including achievement results in mathematics and science.
  • University of Wisconsin Data and Program Library Service This site provides useful links to both governmental and non-governmental domestic and international sites and sources of data. In addition, the following data sets are among those currently available at this site:


    The following statement of policy is required by the University at Albany: It is assumed that your intellectual labor is your own. If there is any evidence of academic dishonesty, including plagiarism, the minimum penalty will be an automatic failing grade for that piece of work. Plagiarism is taking (which includes purchasing) the words and ideas of another and passing them off as one’s own work. If another person’s work is quoted directly in a formal paper, this must be indicated with quotation marks and a citation. Paraphrased or borrowed ideas are to be identified by proper citations.


    Student evaluations will be based on: class participation and oral presentations (10% of final grade); two 3-5 pp. book/article reviews on bold numbered readings, one of which must be on Time on the Cross (20% of final grade); quality of completed projects and assigned exercises (20% of final grade); and a final research paper (50% of final grade). Each student is expected to present oral introductions and critiques of 2 to 3 assigned readings identified below by bold numbers after citations (the specific number will be determined by enrollment). All written assignments are due on the date specified (reviews of articles and books should be handed in on the day we are scheduled to discuss them). The final paper is due on May 10th..


    Mon., Jan. 23: Introduction to Computing and Historical Data Analysis

    Mon., Jan. 30: History and Quantification: Promise and Limits


    http://www.census.gov/prod/2002pubs/pol02-ma.pdf. An introduction to census data and census collection. Look through the instuctions for enumerators for the various 19th century decennial federal census forms.We'll revisit the census when we examine studies of social structure and mobility later in the semester.


    Robert William Fogel, "'Scientific' History and Traditional History," in Robert William Fogel and G. R. Elton, Which Road to the Past? (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983). (1)

    Robert William Fogel, A Life of Learning [http://www.acls.org/op34.htm] (American Council of Learned Societies Occasional Paper No. 34, 1996).

    Thomas J. Archdeacon, Correlation and Regression Analysis: A Historian’s Guide (Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1994), chap. 1.

    Konrad H. Jarausch & Kenneth A. Hardy, Quantitative Methods For Historians: A Guide to Research, Data, and Statistics, Chapters 1-2. [Now available on Electronic Reserve]

    Robert A. Gross, "The Machine-Readable Transcendalists: Cultural History on the Computer," American Quarterly 41 (Sept. 1989): 501-521. Available on-line. Go to Journals and search.(2)

    Margo Anderson, "The History of Women and the History of Statistics," Journal of Women's History, 4 (Spring 1992): 14-36. Available on-line. Go to Journals and search.(3)

    Elementary Concepts in Statistics in StatSoft: Electronic Statistics Textbook [http://www.statsoft.com/textbook/stathome.html.

  • Mon., Feb 6: The Research Process in Social Science History, I: Theory
    and Operationalizing


    Carole Shammas, “The Domestic Environment in Early Modern England and America,” Journal of Social History 14 (Fall 1980): 3-24. Available on-line. Go to Journals and search. (4)

    B. Zorina Khan, "'Not for Ornament': Patenting Activity by Nineteenth-Century Women Inventors," Journal of Interdisciplinary History 31 (Autumn, 2000): 159-195. Available on-line. Go to Journals and search. (5)

    George W. Bohrnstedt and David Knoke, Statistics for Social Data Analysis, chap. 1 ("The Social Research Process").

    "Factor Analysis" in StatSoft: Electronic Statistics Textbook [http://www.statsoft.com/textbook/stathome.html.

    PROJECT #1 DUE: Translating conceptual variables into empirical variables

Mon. February 13: Data—Collecting, Classifying, Coding, Managing


    SPSS Guide to Data Analysis, chaps. 1-2.

    Konrad H. Jarausch & Kenneth A. Hardy, Quantitative Methods For Historians: A Guide to Research, Data, and Statistics, chap. 4.

    Roderick Floud, An Introduction to Quantitative Methods for Historians (Methuen, 1979), chaps. 1. .

    PROJECT #2 DUE: Coding Endicott Johnson Corporation Employment Records. [See Gerald Zahavi, Workers, Managers, and Welfare Capitalism, chap. 3 for background information; on electronic reserve.]

Mon., Feb. 20: No Class

Mon., Feb. 27: The Research Process in Social Science History, II: Computerized Analysis and Simple Descriptive Statistics


    Thomas Dublin, Women at Work (chapter 3), "The Lowell Work Force, 1836, and the Social Origins of Women Workers. (6)

    Paul E. Johnson, A Shopkeepers Millennium: Society and Revivals in Rochester, New York 1815-1837, introduction and chapter 5. (7)

    Laurence A. Glasco, "The Life Cycles and Household Structure of American Ethnic Groups: Irish, Germans, and Native-born Whites in Buffalo, New York, 1855," from Tamara K. Hareven's Family and Kin in Urban Communities, 1700-1930 (New York, 1977).(8)

    John Robertson, "Re-enlistment Patterns of Civil War Soldiers," Journal of Interdisciplinary History 32 (Summer, 2001): 15-35. Available on-line. Go to Journals and search. (9)

    Loren Haskins and Kirk Jeffrey, Understanding Quantitative History, 1-38. [Electronic Reserve]

    SPSS Guide to Data Analysis, chaps. 4-5.

    PROJECT #3 DUE: SPSS analysis of assigned data set.

Mon., March 6: More on Descriptive Statistics: Summarizing Data and Displaying
Relationships Between Variables with Tables and Graphs


    Loren Haskins and Kirk Jeffrey, Understanding Quantitative History, 39-118.

    SPSS Guide to Data Analysis, chaps. 6-9 and pp. 577-592 (“Obtaining Charts in SPSS”).

    Edward R. Tufte, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (Cheshire, Conn: Graphics Press, 1983), chapter 1 [see “Graphical Excellence” on Electronic Reserve]. (10)


    The Data Artist. By Scott Rosenberg. Source: Salon, March 1997.

    PROJECT #4 DUE: Graphing project.

Mon., March 13: Introduction to Historical Geography and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) , I 


    Anne Kelly Knowles, Ed., Past Time, Past Place: GIS for History (Esri Press, 2002). (11)


  • ArcExplorer - ESRI's free GIS data explorer. Allows users to display and query (but not create) GIS data sources.
  • Corpscon (Version 5.11.03) - a free program developed by the Army Corps of Engineers, Corpscon is an MS-Windows-based program that allows users to convert coordinates between Geographic, State Plane and Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) systems on the North American Datum of 1927 (NAD 27), the North American Datum of 1983 (NAD 83) and High Accuracy Reference Networks (HARNs).
  • Crimestat - A free program developed by the Crime Mapping Research Center at the National Institute of Justice, CrimeStat is a spatial statistics program for the analysis of crime incident locations. It is Windows-based and interfaces with most desktop GIS programs.
  • ER Viewer - From ER Mapper, a free "easy to use image viewer featuring interactive roaming and zooming of very large image files." ER Viewer supports a wide range of image formats and is OLE-enabled, for viewing images inside Windows applications. Select the ECW Downloads from the Downloads link.
  • Geomatica Freeview - PCI Geomatica offers Geomatica, a free viewing environment for imagery and graphical bitmaps.
  • GRASS GIS - The Geographic Resource Analysis Support System (GRAS) is a copyrighted, but freely distributed GIS with raster, topological vector, image processing, and graphics production functionality that operates in the UNIX environment through a graphical user interface and shell in X-Windows.
  • Irfran View - very fast FREEWARE 32-Bit graphic viewer for Windoze 9x/ME, WinNT, Win2000 and Windows XP. View numerous types of files including .SID, .TIFF and .JPG. Easy to install. You will need to install the Irfran View plugins also.
  • LandView III - A free Windows-based desktop mapping system that consists of two components, the LandView database and the MARPLOT mapping system. The database contains information about EPA-regulated sites, plus demographic data and street-level maps from the Bureau of the Census.
  • MapInfo ProViewer - This free viewer allows users to display tables and workspaces created with MapInfo. An add-on support is available to use with LizardTech MrSid format images.
  • MrSid GeoViewer - A free application form LizardTech that allows users to view imagery in MrSid format.
  • ERDAS Viewfinder - ERDAS ViewFinder is a free viewing tool with basic image viewing and manipulation capabilities available from the "Free Software Downloads" section. 

Mon., March 20: Introduction to Historical Geography and Geographical Information Systems, II (GIS) / GUEST PRESENTER: Alex Chaucer

Mon., March 27: Inferential Statistics, I: Working With Samples / Testing Hypotheses


    Allan G. Johnson, Social Statistics Without Tears, chaps 9 and 10 (pp. 161-197).

    Loren Haskins and Kirk Jeffrey, Understanding Quantitative History, 121-206.

    SPSS Guide to Data Analysis, chaps. 10-12, 14.

    James N. Gregory, “The Southern Diaspora and the Urban Dispossessed: Demonstrating the Census Public Use Microdata Samples,” Journal of American History 82 (June 1995): 11-134. Available on-line. Go to Journals and search. (13)


    Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) The IPUMS consists of twenty-five high-precision samples of the American population drawn from thirteen federal censuses.

Mon., April 3: Statistical Applications in Historical Studies of Gender and Sexuality: Introduction to Chi Square


    Loren Haskins and Kirk Jeffrey, Understanding Quantitative History, 209-227.

    Allan G. Johnson, Social Statistics Without Tears, pp. 228-233. [Now available on Electronic Reserve]

    SPSS Guide to Data Analysis, chap. 17.

    Bohrnsted and Knoke, Statistics for Social Data Analysis, ch. 4, (Crosstabulation").

    Cissie Fairchilds, "Female Sexual Attitudes and the Rise of Illegitimacy: A Case Study," Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 8 (Spring 1978), 627-667. Available on-line. Go to Journals and search. (14)

    Regina Markell Morantz and Sue Zschoche, "Professionalism, Feminism, and Gender Roles: A Comparative Study of Nineteenth-Century Medical Therapeutics," Journal of American History, 67(Dec., 1980), 568-588. Available on-line. Go to Journals and search. (15)

Mon., April 10: No Class

Mon., April 17: Historical Studies of Social Structure, Mobility, and Public Opinion


    Introduction, chapter 6 & appendixes from Stephen Thernstrom, The Other Bostonians. (16)

    Jonathan M. Wiener, "Planter Persistence and Social Change: Alabama, 1850-1870," Journal of Interdisciplinary History 7 (Autumn 1976): 235-260. Available on-line. Go to Journals and search. (17)

    Selection from Clyde and Sally Griffin, Natives and Newcomers: The Ordering of Opportunity in Mid-Nineteenth Century Poughkeepsie (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1978). (18)

    SPSS Guide to Data Analysis, Appendix B ("Transforming and Selecting Data"), pp. 593-615.

    PROJECT #5 DUE: Crosstabulations and Chi Square

Mon., April 24: Inferential Statistics, II: Quantifying Slavery


    Fogel and Engerman, Time on the Cross. (19)

    PROJECT #6 DUE: Analysis of Fogel and Engerman's data.

Mon., May 1: Statistical Measures of Association and Bivariate Regression


    James Turner, "Understanding the Populists," Journal of American History, 67 (Sept., 1980), 354-73. Available on-line. Go to Journals and search. (20)

    Laird Boswell, "The French Rural Communist Electorate," Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 23 (Spring, 1993): 719-749. Available on-line. Go to Journals and search..(21)

    Kathleen Smith Kutolowski, "Antimasonry Reexamined: Social Bases of the Grass-Roots Party," Journal of American History, 71(Sept. 1984), 269-293. Available on-line. Go to Journals and search. (22)

    Loren Haskins and Kirk Jeffrey, Understanding Quantitative History, 228-257.

    SPSS Guide to Data Analysis, chapter 20-21.


    Lucy Horwitz and Lou Ferleger, Statistics for Social Change (Boston: South End Press, 1980), chap. 14 ("Correlation").

    Allan G. Johnson, Social Statistics Without Tears, 103-113.

    See "Correlation" under "Basic Statistics" in StatSoft: Electronic Statistics Textbook [http://www.statsoft.com/textbook/stathome.html.

    PROJECT #7 DUE: Scattergrams and correlation coefficients.

Mon., May 8: Introduction to Multivariate Analysis and Regression


    Allan G. Johnson, Social Statistics Without Tears, 118-137.

    Loren Haskins and Kirk Jeffrey, Understanding Quantitative History, 259-361.

    SPSS Guide to Data Analysis, chapter 23 (Recommended: chapters 22, 24).

    W. J. Rorabaugh, "Prohibition as Progress: New York State's License Elections, 1846," Journal of Social History (Spring 1981), 425-443. (read footnote #25 carefully). Available on-line. Go to Journals and search. (23)

    Carole Shammas, "How Self-Sufficient Was Early America?" Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 13(Autumn, 1982), 247-272. Available on-line. Go to Journals and search. (24)

    "Factor Analysis" and "Linear Regression" in StatSoft: Electronic Statistics Textbook [http://www.statsoft.com/textbook/stathome.html.


Quantitative Methods and Computing for Historians
History 590 Course Syllabus

Copyright © 1999-2006 by Gerald Zahavi

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Updated 3-13-2006