Spring 2020 catalog cover

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The Norristown Study
An Experiment in Interdisciplinary Research Training

Sidney Goldstein. Foreword by Thomas C. Cochran

1961 | 382 pages | Cloth $79.95
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Table of Contents

—Thomas C. Cochran

List of Maps and Tables


Patterns of Migration and Occupational Mobility
—Sidney Goldstein
Changes in the Journey to Work
—Sidney Goldstein
Some Factors in Intergenerational Occupational Mobility
—William Dorfman
Changing Patterns of Fertility, 1920-1950
—Sidney Goldstein
Differential Fertility in Norristown, 1952
—Anne S. Lee

Patterns of Business Growth and Survival
—Sidney Goldstein and Kurt Mayer
The Small City Industrialist, 1900-1950
—James H. Soltow
History of the Labor Movement in Norristown, 1900-1950
—William L. Calderhead

Technological Change and its Effects in Selected Industries of Norristown
—Harold I. Sharhn
The Hosiery Looper in the Twentieth Century: A Study of Family Occupational Processes and Adaptation to Factory and Community Change, 1900-1950
—George H. Huganir, Jr.
Industrial Relocation of Displaced Male Factory Workers: Some Sociological Implications
—Michael Lalli
Attitudes Toward Work in an Industrial Community
—Gladys L. Palmer

Residential and Occupational Mobility as Indices of the Acculturation of Italians in Norristown, 1900-1950
—Francis A. J. lanni
The Catholics in Norristown
—Lawrence J, Cross, S.J.
Acculturation among the Jews of Norristown
—Simon D. Messing
Mass Communication, 1900-1950
—Robert C. Toole


A. Household Schedule, Personal Schedule, Evaluation Sheet
B. Theses, Papers, and Publications, Completed or in Preparation under the Sponsorship of the Norristown Seminar
C. Publicity Releases of the Norristown Study


Excerpt [uncorrected, not for citation]


This volume is intended as a progress report on the experience of an interdisciplinary research training program conducted at the University of Pennsylvania. The program itself is described in detail in the introductory chapter; this preface briefly outlines the purpose underlying this volume and describes its organization. For three years, beginning in 1951, the Interdepartmental Seminar in Technological Change and Social Adjustment, the Norristown Study, was part of the graduate program of both the Departments of History and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. At the end of this three year period, the Seminar proper was discontinued as a formal course offering, but the materials gathered by it continued to be the basis for research projects. Since 1952, eleven Ph.D. theses based on data collected in Norris­town have been completed; three others are in process. In addition, a number of papers and publications have resulted from the research. In none of these has the overall experience of the Seminar been described or evaluated. Nor have the findings of the many reports been integrated in any single volume. The purpose of this volume, then, is fourfold: (1) to describe the origins and organization of the Norristown Study; (2) to evaluate the Seminar's success as a method for training graduate students in research; (5) to present summaries of some of the completed research, thereby indicating both the substantive findings produced by the study and the variety of research techniques employed; and (4) to point to topics which merit further exploration
in future years.

Participants in the Norristown Seminar were given a maximum of freedom in deciding upon their research. As a result, the projects represent highly individual interests. They do not pro vide an integrated, comprehensive analysis of either the community or of the relation between technological change and social adjustment. Before such a completed analysis can be presented, many important gaps must be filled. The summaries presented in this volume are intended, therefore, merely to illustrate the range of topics on which research has so far been done. It is in this sense that this volume is intended as a progress report rather than as the end product of a research project.

In undertaking the preparation of this volume, the following organization plan was used: Chapters 1 through 4 are devoted to general discussion of the Seminar, the Norristown community, and the various sources of research data used by the participants in the Study. In preparing these chapters, I have drawn extensively upon material available to me as research director of the Study, including the individual research reports and memoranda and correspondence written by the various faculty personnel associated with the Seminar. Chapters 5 through 8 are devoted to summaries of the substantive research; these have been grouped into four categories: (1) studies of population, (2) studies of the impact of change on the economic structure, (5) studies of the impact of change on the individual worker, and (4) studies of acculturation and communication. Each of these chapters is prefaced by a brief introduction. Chapter 9 reviews those studies for which no extensive summaries have been presented in previous chapters. The final chapter gives the highlights of the findings of the research completed to date and points to areas of research which remain to be explored.

The selections included in Chapters 5-8 have been drawn from various sources. Some represent articles published in sociological or historical journals. Others have been prepared by their authors specifically for inclusion in this volume. The majority of the summaries represent abstracts from the Ph.D. theses of the Seminar students. Here, I, have intentionally kept the amount of editorial revision of the original manuscripts to a minimum. In this way, I hoped to retain, as much as possible, the differences in content and in approach that characterized the various studies, thereby assuring the reader a representative cross-section of the work done as part of the Norristown Study. The reader of these materials must realize that since the participants in the Study differed with respect to the level of their previous research training and experience, the results of their work also show different levels of research sophistication and significance.

Since most of the selections included here represent summaries of much larger manuscripts, it was not always possible to include all of the statistical materials on which the discussion is based. Those readers who wish further documentation of specific points, or more extensive discussion of a particular topic may consult the original materials from which the summaries have been drawn. For such purposes, Appendix B contains a complete list, with as full citation as possible, of all the theses and manuscripts which have emanated from the Norristown Study.

On behalf of all of the participants in the Norristown Study, I should like to express appreciation to the members of the University of Pennsylvania's Behavioral Research Council and its chair man, Vice-Provost Roy F. Nichols, for the training and research opportunities made available through establishment of the Inter departmental Seminar on Technological Change and Social Adjustment. Special acknowledgment is due to the faculty members associated with the Seminar, Drs. Dorothy S. Thomas, Thomas C. Cochran, Edward P. Hutchinson, and Anthony F. C. Wallace, for the guidance, interest, and encouragement which they have shown. The eleven Ph.D. theses already completed as part of the program which they directed, together with the other research papers already finished and in process, attest to the success of their training efforts. I should also like to express sincere gratitude to the leaders and the people of Norristown. Without their active interest and very kind cooperation, none of the research reported here would have been possible.

The permission granted by Social Forces, The American Journal of Sociology, The Journal of Economic History, and The Business History Review to reprint several articles with some modification is gratefully acknowledged. I am especially indebted to Drs. Thomas, Cochran, and Hutchin­son for the time which they have devoted to critical examination of various drafts of the manuscripts for this volume, and for the many useful suggestions they have made. Finally, I should like to thank my wife, Alice, for her assistance as typist, consultant, and critic.