Friday, August 15, 2008

A Fascinating Search

I think I may be geeking out about economists!

I have been tasked with finding the birthdates of all 112 presidents of the American Economic Association, and it has been hard going. Some were easy - Wikipedia filled in that info on about 50% of them. But some we only had the year, not the date, and others were as though they had never existed.

I have to detail the search I did on just one of them... E. Goldenweiser, president in 1946. No clue on his first name, year of birth, etc. I found several economics-themed sites with the initials E. A., so folded that in... then discovered some with E. Alexandrovich... then one with Emmanuel Alexandrovich, still in economics. I then found a citation from congressional hearings with the Federal Reserve Board that implyed he was an employee, which gave me more background.

I then went on (using a 2-week free trial) and did a search on the full name. I found a list of various records with variations on his name, and then found this draft card for WWI:
A Statistician for the government. And his birthday. I cannot tell you the THRILL I had when I finally discovered this; a little like finding the Lost Ark of the Covenant. Someone who has not been thought important enough to develop a Wikipedia page for, or to have an online obituary for, and yet here he exists again in the world of 2008, even if only for me around lunchtime on a Friday. I also found his draft card for WWII, where he lists that he is working for the Federal Reserve. I can't find his obituary yet (he died in 1953), but I have found an index online that lists it... just not the actual text!
It took me almost an hour, to find all these little tiny bits of information, and this was my reward. He emigrated from Kiev, Russia, became a naturalized citizen and americanized his middle name to Alexander.

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