Societal Research Archives System: Data and Codebooks

The Index to Cross-Cultural Samples published in 1966 and the Compendium of Coded Materials from Cross-Cultural Literature (1967) were done to assess the quality of cross-cultural data and the overlap in sampling prior. All this work (White 1968, reprinted 1971) was done prior to planning and compiling with G. P. Murdock the Standard Cross-Cultural Sample (see SCCS Bibliography). The SRAS data was made available to colleges, universities and high schools in New England between 1970 and 1990 as one of the main computerized databases under Dartmouth college president John G. Kemeny's project IMPRESS (Interdisciplinary Machine Processessing for Research and Education in the Social Sciences), run by sociologist James Davis, forming the basis of the MECCA Codebooks and datafiles. Here is a quote from John Kemeny (JOHN KEMENY SPEAKING p 86) quoting Jim Davis further down about project IMPRESS: I worked closely with Jim Davis and Project Director Ed Meyers in the summer of 1970 to post the SRAS/MECCA data to the new Dartmouth education time-sharing setup at Dartmouth and documented i n 1972, with fine tuning by Kurtz. From the tone of Kemeny's later comments you can tell this was an exciting time. I had transferred all my SRAS files to a data tape at the University of Pittsburgh where I was teaching (we had IBM mainframe 360s) and within a year high school and undergraduate students were making discoveries using cross-cultural data from the 46 studies I had keystroked from my travels around the U.S. visiting cross-cultural researchers during my graduate years at Michigan and Columbia, with side trips to Harvard, Northwestern, American University, and elsewhere. My discover had been that the samples didn't have enough overlap to make the investiment of each individual cross-cultural researcher really cumulative.

In 1967 I had been hired at Pittsburgh by G. P. Murdock and we were working on the SCCS prior to my going to work with Davis and for Kemeny. I was motivated to join Murdock's faculty by my discovery of non-cumulativity and to build with him a truly cumulative database for cross-cultural studies. Many people later thought I must have been a student of Murdock's, which was not the case. We saw the value of cross-cultural studies from very different perspectives. He was an evolutionary functionalist, having been trained by Sumner and Keller at Yale in a cohort 50 years earlier in the century than mine. My interest was in historical dynamics and I had used Murdock's first 1962-65 installments of his Ethnographic Atlas as background for a comparative regional-historical study of the dynamics of adaptation on the Great Plains and in the Southwest after the European disruption and the advent of horse nomadism. I insisted that we do the Galton's problem tests that we published in the 1969 SCCS article, which showed that history, diffusion, and Galton's problem could not be ignored if valid inferences were to be made from cross-cultural studies (HRAF after it was taken over by the Embers have denied this to the present day in 2006, perhaps because Mel Ember had been a pre-1965 student of Murdock's at Yale, and had failed to pay subsequent attention to the latter-day Murdock.)

Working with Jim Davis and others at Dartmouth in 1970 was an exciting time. Paul F. Velleman and some of his student cohort were setting up an interactiving monitoring system for tracking the voting records of congressmen and senators. He and I worked together to document the MECCA manual. These were the first interactive data analysis programs (Vellman 1974).

eferences
Baker,Clark M., Edward R. Baker, Teresa O. Green. ECPRESS: a mini-IMPRESS. 1974. ACM SIGSOC Bulletin archive 5(4):21-24.

Computing at Dartmouth. Project IMPRESS Launched 1968

Dartmouth 1972 July. The IMPRESS manual. Hanover NH: Project IMPRESS.

Velleman, Paul F. 1971, "MECCA Users Manual", with D. R. White, in The Impress Manual, Project IMPRESS, Hanover, N.H.; 122-164.

Velleman, Paul F. 1974. "Project IMPRESS, Several Perspectives: Interactive Computing and Data Analysis," Behavioral Research Methods and Instrumentation 6:248-253.

White, Douglas R. 1968. Societal Research Archives System: Retrieval, Quality Control and Analysis of Comparative Data. Social Science Information 7(3): 78-94.

White, Douglas R. 1971. "Societal Research Archives System" (reprint) in R.Naroll and R. Cohen, eds. Handbook of Method in Cultural Anthropology, pp. 676-685.

The SRAS Codes and Codebooks

Leaving Dartmouth in 1970 after a summer's work the mag tape that I had brought to transfer the SRAS data had been lost. I discovered recently, however, that I still had machine-readable files, which are the source of this reconstruction of the lost SRAS and MECCA data archives. I am not reprinting all these files, since some have been superseded. I begin with one, and will perhaps add others as time permits. There are few copies left of the codebook, and the coding keys need to be scanned and edited for each file. All the numeric datafiles, however, have been uploaded to the SRAS site on this web site.

7. Code. Data. Social Complexity and Social Development.

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