Population Research, The Office of,

Population Research, The Office of, was founded in 1936 when Frederick H. Osborn '10, a charter trustee of Princeton, formerly a trustee at the Milbank Memorial Fund, used his good offices with both of these institutions to persuade the University to found a program in teaching and research in population, and the Milbank Fund to provide much of the initial financing. Osborn, later a major general during World War II, appointed to study and foster improvement in the morale of the armed services, had a deep interest in population matters, as well as in his alma mater. As part of the arrangement between the Milbank Fund and Princeton, Frank Notestein, a demographer then on the staff of the Fund, was appointed to the Princeton faculty, and became the first director of the Office of Population Research. He served until 1959 when he resigned to become president of the Population Council of New York; he was succeeded as director by Ansley J. Coale, and on Coale's resignation as director in 1976, by Charles F. Westoff.

Princeton's venture in demography was a pioneering one. Its program in population studies was the first university-centered combination of research and teaching in the field in the United States. The Office was also an innovator in what was then an all-male institution in the appointment, shortly after the Office was founded, of Dr. Irene Barnes Taeuber as a member of its research staff. Dr. Taeuber, who died in 1974, published nineteen volumes of books and research papers preeminently on the population of Japan, and also on population in the United States, Europe, Africa, and South Asia.

Before World War II, decades before the population explosion became a matter of general concern, Notestein and Taeuber called attention to the prospective acceleration in population growth in the poorer, densely settled areas of the world. Alumni of the Graduate School with degrees in economics, sociology, and statistics who have learned population at Princeton now teach at Princeton, Harvard, Michigan, Johns Hopkins, and Wisconsin, among many others. Nearly 100 foreign students from more than thirty countries have had special training in population at the Office of Population Research. They are employed in the Population Division of the United Nations, at the World Bank, and in many universities and ministries in developing countries.

Ansley J. Coale


From Alexander Leitch, A Princeton Companion, copyright Princeton University Press (1978).

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