Steven Ruggles

Regents Professor

History, College of Liberal Arts, 2008

Professor of History, Director of the Minnesota Population Center, and Distinguished McKnight Professor in the College of Liberal Arts, has been at the University of Minnesota since 1985. He is described as a "scholar of astonishing breadth of knowledge and productivity whose work has reshaped the field of historical demography and has had a profound effect on the fields of sociology, economics, and history." He is considered to be one the most widely known historical demographers in the world. He is credited with raising approximately $65 million in research funds to create, improve, and disseminate population data. He and his team have collected, coded, computerized, systematized, and delivered to scholars the individual records of millions of Americans going back to 1850. This high-precision individual-level census database for the United States is known as the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS). More recently, he has formed international collaborations to expand IPUMS to a global scale. IPUMS is the single most widely used data source in the top-ranked journal of population research. Nothing like it has ever existed. It may be the most valuable database of all time and it has made the University of Minnesota one of the largest social science data distributors in the world! He provided key leadership in two other large-scale collaborative data infrastructure projects - the North Atlantic Population Project (NAPP), which extended the chronological reach of international data collections; and the National Historical Geographic Information System (NHGIS), which provided web-based access to all U.S. Census summary data since 1790 and integrated electronic boundary files describing the historical locations of counties and census tracts. These data collections are believed to have had a profound and a transformational effect on social science research. He has also produced pioneering studies of historical change in demographic behavior. His work on the history of the American family is described as "path-breaking." He is the author of numerous publications on demographic and family change and censuses and data. His monograph received the William J. Goode Distinguished Book Award by the American Sociological Association and the Allen Sharlin Memorial Award by the Social Science History Association. He is known to be an extraordinary teacher who has had a profound impact on undergraduate and graduate education. He has served as adviser to twelve Ph.D. students and has worked with fifteen postdoctoral research associates. His service to the University and professional organizations is outstanding. He has served on more than thirty-five University-wide, collegiate, and department committees and over seventeen professional boards and committees. In addition, he has served on editorial boards and served as a peer reviewer of grant proposals. We are indeed fortunate to have Professor Steven Ruggles as part of our intellectual community. (Updated, 2008)

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