Guide to the Research Collections



This extensive collection constitutes one of the strong subject holdings of the library. Statistics are acquired comprehensively in all languages and in every area of human activity, including such diverse fields as industry, business, education, finance, labor, transportation, and agriculture; special aspects such as cultural and criminal statistics are also covered. The holdings in the main classmark for materials of this type number about 45,800 volumes, the preponderance being official publications of the countries of the world. There are in addition related statistical materials classed with the public document collections of the library and still others classed under subject.

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Systematic collecting in this field began about the turn of the century. Dr. Billings, in his annual report for 1906, noted the important resources in statistical material on population, finance, taxation, railroads, commerce, and trade; and in his report for 1910 he commented on the library's attempts to collect publications of the various federal, state, and municipal bureaus.3 Since that time the library has added older files, completed many others, and maintained current series. General works in the field, collected works, essays, and miscellanies are not emphasized.

Two types of materials are of outstanding importance. The first, periodicals and society publications, is an unusually extensive collection. Included are proceedings of international statistical congresses, some dating from the middle of the nineteenth century, and complete files of most important journals, such as Sankhya: The Indian Journal of Statistics, Revista brasileira de estatistica, Revista italiana di economia, demografia e statistica, and the Australian Journal of Statistics.

The second particularly important type of material is composed of publications of international governmental agencies, along with reports of the national, state, and municipal levels. The section containing population statistics and general series is strong. The national materials composed of census publications, numbered series of official statistical reports, and statistical year-books and periodicals published by governmental agencies are noteworthy: the census publications are virtually complete for many countries. States and cities do not publish separate statistical reports as extensively, but the library has an excellent representation of these materials. Municipal publications are actively solicited from cities in the New York metropolitan area with populations of 50,000 or more, from other American cities with populations of 400,000 or more, and from foreign cities with populations of 250,000 or more.

Other sources for statistical information include strong collections of official handbooks and manuals of governments (principally national and state). Compilations and series relating to specific subjects other than demography are usually classified with other subject materials: for example, publications relating to crop production are classed with agriculture.

The library fully catalogs its statistical materials and files cards under appropriate subject headings in the Public Catalog and in the various special catalogs of the divisions.

The collecting policy of the Research Libraries in the field of population statistics and studies long anticipated the great current interest in demography. In addition to the files of serial publications, governmental and private, there are also extensive holdings of early monographs. Among the most noteworthy of these are John Graunt's Natural and Political Observations ... Made Upon the Bills of Mortality (1662), the first and early editions of the works of Sir William Petty, and copies of the first eight editions of Malthus's An Essay on the Principle of Population.