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A Century in Search of Results…

February 17, 2011

Every few years Virginia Tech’s College of Architecture and Urban Studies (CAUS) holds a research symposium featuring College faculty. I’m Blacksburg-bound tomorrow with several (mostly pre-tenure) colleagues. My presentation is based on a paper I presented at last September’s APSA meeting. “A Century in Search of Results: Publicity, Professionalism, and Reform in the Progressive Era” – here’s a copy of the pdf of the presentation, if you’re interested. As students and colleagues can attest, the paper is basically an ode to William H. Allen’s 1907 book Efficient Democracy (1907) and the remarkable but disastrous story of Efficient Citizenship, a printed by the New York Bureau of Municipal Research under Allen’s direction between 1908 and 1914. Allen’s story is useful because it highlights tensions basic in the search for reform in numbers, and – if someone is looking to do archival research – simply digitizing the Efficient Citizenship series would be a big contribution. I found the design and visualization in these cards genuinely fascinating. If I hadn’t been so busy trying to finish the paper, I was tempted to take a day and do some photography (but as Rachel says that’s a good post-tenure project).

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