Scope and Content
Title: United States. President's Research Committee On Social Trends Records,
Date (inclusive): 1932
Collection number: XX397
United States. President's Research Committee On Social Trends
10 manuscript boxes
4.2 linear feet)
Hoover Institution Archives
Stanford, California 94305-6010
Abstract: Relates to demographic, educational, racial, recreational, cultural, religious, medical,
legal, and governmental aspects of society; urban and rural trends; and the role of the
family. Reports published under the title
Recent Social Trends in the United States (New
Collection open for research.
The Hoover Institution Archives only allows access to
copies of audiovisual items. To listen to sound recordings or to view videos or films during your visit, please contact the Archives
at least two working days before your arrival. We will then advise you of the accessibility of the material you wish to see
or hear. Please note that not all audiovisual material is immediately accessible.
For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives.
Alternative Form Available
Also available on microfilm (10 reels).
[Identification of item], United States. President's Research Committee On Social Trends
Records, [Box no.], Hoover Institution Archives.
Acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives.
Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find
the collection in Stanford University's online catalog at
. Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in the online catalog is larger than the number
of boxes listed in this finding aid.
Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964.
United States--Politics and government.
United States--Politics and government--1929-1933.
United States--Social conditions.
The discussion of the project and the preliminary work were initiated in September 1929.
Funds to support the studies were appropriated by the Rockefeller Foundation in November
1929, and were administrated by the Social Science Research Council in New York City.
The members of the original committee were Wesley C. Mitchell, Chairman; Charles E.
Merriam, Vice Chairman; Shelby M. Harrison, Secretary-Treasurer; Alice Hamilton, Yale
University; Howard W. Odum, University of North Carolina; William F. Ogburn, University
As for the executive staff, it consisted of William F. Ogburn, Director of Research;
Howard W. Odum, Assistant Director of Research; and Edward Eyre Hunt, Executive
Herbert Hoover's foreword to the two volume report of findings of the Committee indicates
his reasons for initiating the work and making the effort to obtain support for the
studies. A preparatory note explains the study procedures followed by the Committee and
its collaborators. Both are quoted below.
Foreword by Herbert Hoover to the two volume set entitled
Recent Social Trends in
the United States,
published by McGraw Hill Book Company, New York, 1933:
"In the autumn of 1929 I asked a group of eminent scientists to examine into the
feasibility of a national survey of social trends in the United States, and in December
of that year I named the present Committee under the chairmanship of Dr. Wesley C.
Mitchell to undertake the researchers and make a report. The survey is entirely the work
of the committee and its experts, as it was my desire to have a complete, impartial
examination of the facts. The Committee's own report, which is the first section of the
published work and is signed by members, reflects their collective judgment of the
material and sets forth matters of opinion as well as of strict scientific determination.
Since the task assigned to the Committee was to inquire into changing trends, the result
is emphasis on elements of instability rather than stability in our social structure.
This study is the latest and most comprehensive of a series, some of them governmental
and others privately sponsored, beginning in 1921 with the report on "Waste in Industry"
under my chairmanship. It should serve to help all of us to see where social stresses are
occurring and where major efforts should be undertaken to deal with them constructively."
- The White House
- Washington, D.C.
- October 11, 1932
As the basis for its report of findings the President's research Committee on Social
Trends presents... chapters prepared by its collaborators and in a series of monographs
separately published the scientific results of its researchers. The chapters and
monographs are prepared with the primary purpose of revealing major social questions.
They present records, not opinions; such substantial stuff as may serve as a basis for
social action, rather than recommendations as to the form which action should take.
As a scientific undertaking the researchers in general have been limited to fields where
records are available. In preparing certain of the chapters, notably that on the arts,
continuous records proved very scarce; for some of the chapters, such as that on social
attitudes and interests, it was necessary to make extensive collections of data not
previously recorded; for others, especially those on population and the utilization of
natural wealth, the abundance of data in one or more parts of the field led rather to
problems of exclusion and selection.
The scope of the researches was made as broad as feasible not only in order to yield a
picture of changing society in the United States, but also to provide a framework within
which emerging problems might be seen in their due relations. Other studies, such as
those of the presidential Committee on recent Economic Changes and the various White
House conferences have been drown upon, not duplicated, and the schedule of investigation
and publications was so arranged as to enable the collaborators to use the results of the
decennial census of 1930 and of various other surveys, governmental and private which
were in progress during the life of the work.
The investigators were recruited with the advice of officers of the Social science
Research Council, of universities and other scientific institutions. Frequent progress
reports were made by them and staff conferences were held from time to time as the
researchers progressed. Preliminary drafts of chapters were submitted for criticism as to
accuracy and freedom from bias. In published form the chapters represent not only a
treatment of the factors of social change, but an attempt to coordinate and integrate the
evidence into a useful whole.
Certain topics are excluded because for one reason or another they could not be fitted
into the Committee's scheme. The current business depression is not explained. Much of
the basic materials upon economic changes have been treated in recent publications.
Little is said about the fateful issue of war and peace, although the financial costs of
past wars are set out in the chapters on the functions of government and on taxation.
Though foreign developments -intellectual, political, economic and social -have exercised
a many sided influence upon American trends since 1900, they are mentioned only here and
there. There is no chapter on the growth of scientific knowledge in general, or of social
science and social research in particular.
A 75 page summary and review of findings for which the Committee takes the responsibility
is carried in Volume I, preceding 29 detailed chapters. The problems of social change are
presented in the summary under three groupings: Problems of physical heritage; Problems
of biological heritage; Problems of social heritage.
In addition to the two volume report described above, twelve monographs were published to
present fuller data on certain specific trends: population; communication agencies;
education; metropolitan communities; rural communities; races and ethnic groups;
political, social, and economic activities of women; recreation (Americans at play); the
arts; health and environment; public administration; growth of the federal Government
-1915-1932. A monograph on Labor in the National Life was announced but was never
completed for publication."
Scope and Content
The documents in this collection consist almost exclusively of the committee's findings,
in the form of typescript and mimeographed copies of twenty-six of the twenty-nine final
The papers of the executive secretary Edward Eyre Hunt were also sent to the Hoover
Archives, and constitute a separate collection under his name. The material relating to
the President's Research Committee on Social Trends can be found in Boxes 20-27, and
consist of correspondence, memoranda, minutes, proceedings, and reports.