Herb Parnes is regarded as the “founding father” of the NLS, and was largely responsible for the early success of the NLS as an important source of data for research in the social and behavioral sciences. As old-timers can confirm, Herb was so closely associated with the NLS that, for many years, researchers habitually referred to the NLS as “the Parnes data.” Herb Parnes:
Herb Parnes on aspects of the NLS to which he would point with pride:
I’m quite willing to claim credit for the orientation of our research, which from the very start was focused on important policy issues. The most general statement of the conceptual framework I used starts with the premise that the productive roles of members of the labor force—and how well men and women perform them—are important to society at large as well as the individuals involved. The achievement of society’s goals depends on the quality of its human resources—on the skill and know-how of its work force. From the point of view of the individual, the work role is important not only in defining and identifying the person but in substantially influencing the quality of his/her life. This of course doesn’t mean that the productive role is the most important one; men and women play a variety of significant roles: they are spouses, parents, members of a neighborhood and community, citizens of a nation and of the world. Above all, they are thinking, feeling beings whose self-fulfillment is an important end in itself—not only for the individual but also for any humane society….
Our research orientation and its implementation were sufficiently attractive to Howard Rosen and his associates [at the Department of Labor] that funding of the NLS was continuous. There are at least four other aspects of the NLS experience in which I allow myself to take pride. I’m proud of the staff I recruited and of the esprit that developed among us. I’m also proud of the relationships we developed with the Department of Labor and the Bureau of the Census. Both of these reflected the mutual confidence and respect that prevailed and made the joint effort more productive as well as enjoyable. Still another source of pride lies in the fact that from the beginning we insisted on sharing the NLS data bank with the entire research community rather than attempting to maintain a proprietary interest in it. Finally, it’s hard not to be proud of the quantity and variety of research that has been done both at Ohio State and literally throughout the entire world in the basis of the NLS data.
Quotes from: Parnes, Herbert S. A Prof’s Life: It’s More Than Teaching. Lincoln, NE: Writer’s Showcase, 2001.
… to the individuals at the U.S. Department of Labor, the Center for Human Resource Research at Ohio State University, NORC at the University of Chicago, and the U.S. Census Bureau who teamed together to conduct the NLS for 50 years. Without the hard work and dedication of these individuals, there would be no NLS!
If you are current or former member of the NLS team and would like to add your “staff” profile to this website, please contact NLSat50@chrr.osu.edu and we will send you a link to the profile submission page.