ICPSR was founded as the Inter-university Consortium for Political Research (ICPR). The word "Social" was added to the title in 1975.
Warren E. Miller established the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research at the University of Michigan, and became its first executive director. A renowned scholar, he was one of the four co-authors of "The American Voter" (1960), a landmark work on voting behavior. The others were Drs. Angus Campbell, Philip E. Converse and Donald E. Stokes. Professor Miller was also the co-author, with J. Merrill Shanks, of "The New American Voter" (1996, Harvard University Press). The work examines diminishing voter turnout, evolving party-identification patterns and voting behavior. Miller also helped develop the field of quantitative political science, the use of surveys and computers to analyze political behavior. He was active for a long time in the American National Election Studies, a program that carries out vast surveys of voters before and after every national election. For more than 20 years, he was a principal investigator for the program, which is now supported by the National Science Foundation and has become almost an American institution. All scholars and students of American political behavior depend on the surveys.
Miller's term as ICPSR director ended in 1970. In this document (PDF, 14 pages) from August 1962, Miller explains the concept behind ICPSR and its organization to Rensis Likert, director of the Institute for Social Research.
First annual OR meeting held
The first Annual Report (PDF) of the ICPR noted that the first gathering of Official Representatives reaffirmed the interest of the member institutions in four major objectives:
- The development of data resources
- The establishment of a formal training program for graduate students and faculty
- The stimulation and facilitation of new research
- The operation of an informational clearing house concerning ongoing research
Although the record does not perhaps make this clear, the various participants also understood that the proposed activities were additionally innovative in that the consortium research data would be maintained in the ICPR "repository" (the word "archive" was less used initially) and made available in machine readable form. Thus the search, identification, and recording phases that had been basic for all research scholars in the social sciences to this point were to become a community exercise in so far as certain types of important information were concerned. This simple fact was to be fully as revolutionary in its implications and results as the statistical methods used in the analysis of the data.
Source: Blalock Report (PDF), ICPSR Review Committee, June 1989
|From left, Philip Converse, Warren Miller, and Angus Campbell|
Survey Data Archive established
Creating a central location to access research data was an important innovation, as indicated in this article by Philip Converse in Public Opinion Quarterly, 1964.
"Among the remaining bottlenecks to a more efficient harnessing of information production, perhaps the principal one is the current lag in the social organization of the research community, which leaves us with little in the way of institutional bases for the orderly accumulation of behavioral science data and for the broad facilitation of access to such material. One example of many that might be cited will serve to illustrate the point. For several decades historians and political scientists in this country and abroad have labored over aggregate voting records, painstakingly locating dispersed sources and hand-compiling data for this or that sequence of elections in this or that portion of the country. It was inevitable that duplication of effort was large, although given the medium in which researchers compiled their information, there was little remedy for the problem save for the occasional publication of some of the grosser returns. However, the great flexibilities of duplication and transmission of information permitted by the new technology can now justify the systematic archival accumulation of voting statistics in permanent and machine-manipulable form, on an expanding time base and in growing geographical depth (both cross-nationally and intra-nationally down to smaller and smaller civil subdivisions). Indeed, the Social Science Research Council has expressed interest in such a data accumulation effort, and has granted funds to Walter Dean Burnham, now of Haverford College, to collect certain gross returns back to 1824, and to assess costs involved in retrieving and organizing the American materials in still greater depth. Yet one of the problems faced by any agency in promoting a general-purpose collection of this sort has been the absence of any obvious place to locate the materials once they have been organized. Naturally, there would be no dearth of institutions welcoming the gift of such a collection. But there have been no clearly appropriate institutions already "tooled up" to promote easy access to such materials on the part of any interested member of the behavioral science research community.
This is the organizational bottleneck and the problem of effective data archives. This article is intended to reflect the thoughts and activities of one group that has recently been working on the problem. In June of 1962 the Inter-university Consortium for Political Research was constituted with a membership of twenty-one major American universities (now thirty-eight), and goals of speeding behavioral research in the policy sciences through intensified training and archival developments."
Source: Philip E. Converse. "A Network of Data Archives for the Behavioral Sciences." Public Opinion Quarterly, Summer 1964; 28: 273-286.
First summer program held
The Summer Program in Quantitative Methods of Social Research was created simultaneously with ICPR. The first program had approximately 20 faculty participants and 40 graduate student participants, and the instructors included the founders of ICPSR themselves: Warren Miller and Philip Converse.
Donald Stokes was the first director of the summer program.
Sources: 1963-64 annual report (PDF), Hank Heitowit interview, June 8, 2011.
Magnetic tape replaced punch cards
The consortium started converting its data holdings and codebooks from paper punch cards onto magnetic tape as the collection continued to grow. By the next year, while ICPR continued to ship out 900,000 punch cards in response to data requests from members, the equivalent of more than 2 million cards were also distributed on magnetic tape.
Source: 1964-65 Annual Report
Historical Archive created
The Historical Archive, which has operated under various names over the years and is now known as the General Archive, was created under a conscious initiative by consortium leaders to expand its data holdings. It would eventually add such massive datasets as published U.S. Census reports and congressional roll-call votes dating back to 1790.
The Blalock Report (PDF) from 1989 described it this way:
"Almost initially the decision was made to build a time dimension into the repository resources by cooperating with historians of the American Historical Association in developing a massive collection of historical electoral data (relating both to representation and to referenda) and processing congressional roll calls, 1789-1940, that had been assembled by a Works Progress Administration project team under the direction of Dr. Clifford Lord. The Social Science Research Council provided modest but vital early funding to finance a survey of historical electoral data resources and the feasibility of their conversion into machine readable form. Both NSF and the Ford Foundation contributed major grant support for the history projects and NEH ultimately made substantial grants (direct and indirect) to these or other historical projects."
Consortium growth continued
Membership in ICPSR exceeded 100 institutions for the first time in 1968, jumping to 127 from 78 the previous year, according to the Blalock Report. Revenue from membership increased from about $172,000 to $325,000 during the same period.
Iverson named Summer Program director
Gudmund Iversen, author of numerous books on statistical analysis in the social sciences, was named director of the Summer Program.
Hofferbert named executive director
|Richard I. Hofferbert, who led ICPR from 1970 to 1975, was involved in the comparative study of public policy at state and local levels of government. He developed the dataset Socio-Economic, Public Policy, and Political Data for the United States, 1890-1960 and a comparative counterpart that covered selected demographic, social, economic, public policy, and political comparative data for Switzerland, Canada, France, and Mexico.|
Hofferbert was also instrumental in making the German Electoral Data Project — a collaboration among ICPSR, the Zentralarchiv, and ZUMA — a success during the 1970s.
Sources: Frantilla, Anne. Social Science in the Public Interest: A Fiftieth-Year History of the Institute for Social Research. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library, Bulletin No. 45, September 1998. Kaase, Max. "Comment" in Crossroads of Social Science: The ICPSR 25th Anniversary Volume, edited by Heinz Eulau. New York, Agathon Press, 1989.
Erbring appointed Summer Program director
Lutz Erbring was named director of the Summer Program. Erbring's areas of study include communications and media theory. He is professor emeritus at Free University in Berlin.
Machine-readable Guide to Resources and Services created
The electronic version of the Guide, first distributed on magnetic tape to ICPSR Official Representatives, established the basis for today's searchable online catalog.
Jerome Clubb named ICPSR director
Jerome Clubb, a historian, was Executive Director of ICPSR from 1975-1991 and directed the Program in Historical Politics in the 1970s. This program focused on the digitization of several bodies of data key to the study of electoral behavior. During Clubb's tenure, the ICPSR data holdings diversified through the development of extensive data collections on international relations; voting records of plenary sessions and committees of the United Nations; records of the social, political, and economic attributes of nations; quality of life; crossnational comparative social indicators; and the roles of women. In the late 1970s Clubb also broadened the educational activities of ICPSR to include undergraduate instruction. ICPSR also experienced a constant growth in membership during Clubb's term.
Source: Frantilla, Anne. Social Science in the Public Interest: A Fiftieth-Year History of the Institute for Social Research. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library, Bulletin No. 45, September 1998.
Name of ICPR changed to ICPSR
The name of the organization is changed to the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research. In an e-mail interview in late 2011, Clubb described the change:
"...we undertook a continuing effort to change both the orientation and perceptions of the organization. Adding the word 'social' to the name might seem merely cosmetic, but it was also an expression of reality. Through various avenues, we called attention to the value of existing ICPSR data holdings and its summer program for disciplines and specializations other than political science. An aggressive search for funding beyond membership income allowed us to add data relevant to other research areas without neglecting political science. We invited individuals from diverse disciplines to join our advisory committees and to participate in our governing structure. We worked at making our operations and financial management more open to our governing council, to the representatives of member institutions, and to interested social scientists more generally."
Erik Austin discusses the milestones of 1975.
The National Archive of Computerized Data on Aging was established as a project funded by the Administration on Aging. The first grants also involved the U-M Institute of Gerontology. NACDA is now funded by the National Institute on Aging, and provides access to data relevant to gerontological research.
Hoyer named Summer Program director
Robert Hoyer took over as leader of the Summer Program.
ICPSR was approached by the Law Enforcement Assistance Agency in 1974 for help in archiving, dissemination, and related services for law and criminal justice data. The result was the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data. Funding is now provided by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
Heitowit named director of Summer Program
Hank Heitowit assumed leadership of the Summer Program, a position he would hold for the next 27 years. Heitowit first joined ICPSR in 1971 as the Summer Program's library coordinator. During his time as director, participation in the program grew from about 300 people to nearly 800.
Heitowit recounts some of the changes in the program curriculum over the years.
First diskette produced
ICPSR produced its first data diskette for a user in 1984.
Granda and Vardigan joined ICPSR staff
Mary Vardigan and Peter Granda, both with ICPSR since 1985, talk about how the consortium has changed since then.
Peter Granda and Mary Vardigan joined ICPSR in 1985, and both have been with the consortium since then, shaping the organization for nearly 30 years.
Vardigan joined the staff as an editorial assistant, and took the consortium through the transition from print to Web-based communication. She was also instrumental in ICPSR's efforts (in cooperation with several other social science groups) to develop the Data Documentation Initiative. In 2004, Vardigan was named Director of Collection Delivery and an assistant director of ICPSR.
Granda began in the General Archive working on converting two large datasets (the 1935-1937 Cost of Living Survey and State Legislative Election Returns), and since progressed through several research associate titles. In 1993, he was named Assistant Director of Archival Development, and in 2006, Acting Director of Collection Development. He current serves as Director of the General Archive, Director of the Health and Medical Care Archive, and Assistant Director, Collection Development.
Source: "ICPSR in Time, Space, and Context: A Personal History," Eric W. Austin.
CDNET allowed remote access to ICPSR resources
With partial support from a National Science Foundation grant, ICPSR rolled out the Consortium Data Network (CDNET), which allowed users to search through the consortium's data holdings and order data remotely. The system let users search through complete descriptions of all data collections in the ICPSR Guide-On-Line, instead of leafing through hard copies of the "Guide to Resources and Services," an annual publication that was as large as 900 pages. CDNET also allowed searches of variables in ICPSR studies and bibliographic citations.
Source: ICPSR Bulletin, January 1987.
Richard Rockwell named Executive Director
Sociologist Richard C. Rockwell, previously a staff associate at the Social Science Research Council in New York and director of the Louis Harris Data Center at the University of North Carolina in the 1970s, served as ICPSR Executive Director from 1991 to 2000. His research interests were diverse and included global-scale environmental change, the social impact of the AIDS epidemic, and quantitative social science methodology. Now a Professor of Sociology at the University of Connecticut, Rockwell left ICPSR for a position as Director of the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research from 2000-2004.
Rockwell's term at ICPSR was notable for technological innovation: he encouraged ICPSR to transition from tape distribution of data to electronic means, including FTP, and to build a Web presence. Rockwell also brought in new externally funded archives focused on special topics and established the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) to create a metadata standard for the social sciences. Under his leadership, ICPSR was awarded a National Science Foundation Infrastructure in the Social Sciences grant.
First website posted
ICPSR's first website was created in 1994 by a processor at NACJD. A gallery of old ICPSR sites is available.
Funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, SAMHDA is home to some of ICPSR's most popular datasets, such as the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, Monitoring the Future, and the National Comorbidity Study.
FTP downloads of data made available
After completing the largest data migration to that point in the history of the social sciences, ICPSR made available more than 40,000 separate data files to users via electronic transfer for the first time.
The two-year migration project involved converting data from 12,000 reels of magnetic tape to disk storage.
The data were converted from EBCDIC to ASCII binary encoding.
Source: "ICPSR completes large data migration," By Mary Vardigan, University Record, Oct. 8, 1996.
The International Archive of Education Data was created with support from the National Center for Education Statistics. Funding was discontinued in 2005, and the website was taken down in 2011. All data from IEAD is still available to ICPSR members.
The Health and Medical Care Archive was created with resources from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to store data from research in health care funded by the foundation. ICPSR's relationship with the foundation dates back to the early 1980s.
ICPSR became a center within the Institute for Social Research
ICPSR had been a subunit of the Center for Political Studies, but there had been some conflict over the allocation of indirect costs associated with ICPSR's grants. The so-called Blalock committee had recommended the separation of the two units in 1989, but it wasn't until ISR Director David Featherman and ICPSR Council Chair Hal Winsborough brokered the separation in 1998 that it finally happened.
Data made available for download
For the first time, ICPSR data was available for download from the Web.
Warren Miller died
ICPSR founder Warren Miller passed away in 1999 at the age of 74. His obituary in the New York Times can be read online.
Gutmann named Executive Director
Myron Gutmann talks about his time as director of ICPSR.
Myron Gutmann, previously director of the Population Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin, was named ICPSR director in 2001. He served until 2009, overseeing dramatic growth in grant funding and the creation of four new archives. Gutmann left ICPSR to become the head of the National Science Foundation's Directorate for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences.
Web downloads opened to all members
ICPSR Direct, the Web downloading service for ICPSR data, was opened up to anyone on the campus of a member institution. This freed up Official Representatives to provide support for better data use rather than ordering and distributing data themselves.
Bibliography of Data-related Literature published online
The bibliography that links published articles to datasets held by ICPSR is published for the first time in 2002. The works include journal articles, books, book chapters, government reports, working papers, dissertations, and magazines and newspaper articles, among other things. The bibliography currently contains more than 60,000 citations.
ICPSR moved to Perry Building
|After being located in several different buildings around the University of Michigan and Ann Arbor, ICPSR moved into its current home in the Perry Building on Packard Street. The building is shared with other units of ISR.|
Research Connections established
The Child Care & Early Education Research Connections archive was created in 2003 and is a partnership between ICPSR, the National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University, and the Office of Child Care and the Office for Planning, Research and Evaluation at the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The archive's website contains datasets as well as research reports, policy briefs, and scholarly research on child care and early education.
The Data Sharing for Demographic Research archive promotes the sharing of public-use data; sharing of restricted-access data; long-term archiving of demographic data; improving the science of data sharing and archiving; and user support and specialized training.
The project has also established a shared-data infrastructure to support demographers housed in population centers funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and other demographic researchers.
DSDR is a partnership between NICHD, ICPSR, the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina, the Minnesota Population Center at the University of Minnesota, the Hopkins Population Center at Johns Hopkins University, the RAND Corporation, and the Population Studies Center at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.
The Data Preservation Alliance for the Social Sciences is a voluntary partnership created to archive, catalog and preserve social science research data. The Data-PASS shared catalog allows searches of the entire holdings of most members.
The partners include ICPSR, the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University, the Odum Institute for Research in Social Science at the University of North Carolina, the Electronic and Special Media Records Service Division at the National Archives and Records Administration, the Roper Center at the University of Connecticut, and the Social Science Data Archive at the University of California, Los Angeles.
ICPSR created MyData accounts for users at member institutions. Once a user signs in with a MyData account and is verified to be at a member institution, he or she is able to download data from ICPSR's website.
Undergraduate internships created
In an effort to promote quantitative literacy among undergraduate students, ICPSR established an internship program for college students. Interns spend several weeks at ICPSR and attend classes at the Summer Program for Quantitative Methods. At the end of the summer, interns have a completed project and poster that can be presented at professional conferences. This video shows 2011 intern Emmi Obara of Reed College presenting her project.
Jacoby appointed Summer Program director
William Jacoby, a professor in the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University and a research scientist at ICPSR, was named director of the Summer Program. His research specializations are mass political behavior and quantitative methodology, with focuses on ideology and personal choices in public opinion and voting behavior. Jacoby has overseen the continued expansion of the Summer Program, including record enrollment and new off-site locations for workshops.
Summer Program Director William Jacoby talks about some of the milestones the program has achieved since he started in 2007.
Minority data archive opened
The Resource Center for Minority Data (originally called the Minority Data Resource Center) is an ICPSR initiative established as a repository for data that can assist good science on minority-related issues. RCMD Director John Garcia also has taught a Summer Program class on Methodological Issues in Quantitative Research on Race and Ethnicity, and serves as ICPSR Director of Community Outreach.
Paper competition started
Continuing its outreach to the student community, ICPSR established a paper competition for graduates and undergraduates with prizes of up to $1,000. Winning entries from the past several years are available on the ICPSR website.
PreK-3rd archive created
ICPSR began a partnership with the Foundation for Child Development to archive data related to the foundation's PreK-3rd Education initiative. The goal of the PreK-3rd archive is to provide longitudinal data to analyze the effects of early education.
Terrorism Preparedness Data Resource Center established
In partnership with the University of Maryland's National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, Michigan State University's School of Criminal Justice, and NACDA at ICPSR, the terrorism archive collects and distributes data from government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and researchers about the nature of domestic and international terrorism.
International Data Resource Center established
In an effort to meet growing demands for international data, the IDRC was established to serve as a clearinghouse for all such data housed at ICPSR.
ICPSR's focus on education continued with the establishment of TeachingWithData.org, which provides a portal to teaching and learning resources to promote quantitative literacy in the social science curriculum. Teachingwithdata.org is a pathway of the National Science Digital Library, and aims to support social science instructors at the secondary and post-secondary levels by providing data-driven student exercises and other resources.
Four new archives establishedIn 2009, ICPSR created four new archives:
the NCAA Student-Athlete Experiences Data Archive archives and disseminates data from the National Collegiate Athletic Association on the academic progress and college outcomes of NCAA student-athletes
the National Addiction and HIV/AIDS Data Archive Program (NAHDAP) acquires, prepares, and disseminate data on addition and HIV/AIDS from the National Institute on Drug Abuse
the Integrated Fertility Survey Series, is a harmonized dataset funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child health and Human Development created from ten surveys on fertility and the family taken over 50 years
the China Multi-Generational Panel Dataset-Liaoning, contains more than 1.5 million triennial observations for more than 260,000 individuals in 698 communities in China collected over 150 years. Partners in the project are the National Institutes of Health, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, DSDR and ICPSR.
Historical demography project funded
NIH awarded a two-year grant to Principal Investigator George Alter's project "Archiving the Historical Demography of the U.S." The project will archive, preserve and disseminate longitudinal data on family histories covering the colonial period and 19th century. The data are constructed from genealogies and records of births, marriages, and deaths.
Grant awarded for mortality study
ICPSR researcher Susan Hautaniemi Leonard received a two-year grant from the National Science Foundation for her project "Strengthening Qualitative Research through Methodological Innovation and Integration: A Longitudinal Analysis of Human Mortality. Leonard's study focuses on how cause-of-death classification affects what we know about the transition in 19th century America from high and variable mortality levels attributable mainly to infectious disease to a lower and more stable rate attributable to degenerative disease. The study uses the Connecticut Valley Historical Demography Project data covering 1850 to 1912.
MET project established
ICPSR received a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to archive videos from the foundation's Measures of Effective Teaching project. The MET project involved recording videos from more than 3,000 volunteer classrooms across the country. ICPSR archived those videos and made them available first to MET research partners, and subsequently to other researchers determined in a competitive grant award from the foundation.
Authorized users can securely access the videos through a Web-based streaming service, and quantitative data through a secure virtual data enclave.
The project was ICPSR's first involving video data, and allowed the Consortium to establish the infrastructure to accept such data from other depositors in the future.
George Alter named director
George Alter, interim director since November 2009 and a researcher and administrator at ICPSR since 2007, accepted a five-year appointment as ICPSR director.
His research interests focus on the history of the family, demography, and economic history.
Before coming to ICPSR, Alter held various positions at Indiana University.
Along with the directorship of ICPSR, Alter has appointments at the University of Michigan as a history professor and at the ISR Population Studies Center as a research professor. He also served as 2011 president of the Social Science History Association.
Integrated search made available
ICPSR deployed a new version of the traditional study search. It queried not just the study-level metadata records, but also the variables in the data, citations for related literature, and the full text of the documentation files.
The search was designed so the top 10 to 20 results will be more targeted and useful. Queries that previously returned no results returned some hits under the new search, as matches can be found in the variable text. In general, the new integrated search returns more results.
To facilitate managing the larger result sets, ICPSR added new functions to the study results page:
- Links that automatically take visitors to the first and last pages of the result set
- Option to display 50 or 100 results per page
- Additional information in the right well of each result if visitors sort by release date, number of downloads, or number of citations
- Improved time-period facet that lets users enter a start year and an end year
Data Seal of Approval awarded
ICPSR became one of the first six data repositories to earn the Data Seal of Approval designation.
Created by the Data Archiving and Networked Services archive in The Netherlands and overseen by an international board, the Data Seal of Approval is intended to demonstrate to researchers that data repositories are taking appropriate measures to ensure the long-term availability and quality of data they hold.
The seal sets forth 16 guidelines related to trustworthy data management and stewardship. It is awarded after an online self-assessment regarding a data repository's adherence to the guidelines. The assessment is reviewed by the DSA Board.
Half century of ICPSR commemorated
ICPSR celebrated the 50th anniversary of its founding by Warren Miller. A year of events included a symposium featuring Nobel laureate and former ICPSR Council Member Elinor Ostrom.
Receptions were held at the Official Representatives meeting, as well as at various professional meetings.
Partnership with China Data Center begins
The University of Michigan China Data Center (CDC) and ICPSR became partners. While housed at ICPSR headquarters in the Institute for Social Research, the CDC officially reports to the Office of the Vice President for Research at U-M and is operated as an independent data service. The CDC integrates historical, social, and natural science data on China and offers an online geographic analysis system. Membership in the CDC and ICPSR remained separate, but synergies between the organizations added value for both.
Building Community Engagement Project launched
With funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, ICPSR began its Building Community Engagement Project. It involved two meetings with editors of peer-reviewed social science journals and with representatives of domain-specific data repositories to discuss data-citation standards, access to research data, and sustainable funding models. Four research projects focusing on data citation and data management were funded by the project's grants.
As an outcome of the meetings, a Call for Change document was issued by more than two-dozen representatives of domain repositories, and a white paper was released recommending that new, sustainable funding models be developed. Project website.
Public access to data encouraged
ICPSR displayed its leadership in data curation and stewardship by strongly supporting a February 2013 memorandum from the Executive Office of the President's Office of Science and Technology Policy regarding public access to government-funded research results. The ICPSR staff provided a written statement of support, and the director of curation services, Jared Lyle, presented verbal comments at a public meeting at the National Academy of Sciences. In a related effort, ICPSR's development team began work on an open-access research data sharing service named openICPSR, with plans to launch it in 2014.