Nobel recipient used resources offered by Church

The Church Family History Library contributed to the success of the recipient of the 1993 Nobel Prize for Economics, he affirmed recently in Salt Lake City.

Robert W. Fogel, professor of economics at the University of Chicago, was the second speaker in the Family History Library Centennial Lecture Series. His Jan. 13 lecture addressed the contributions of archival sources to the study of historical, social and biomedical sciences.He spoke of the value of the Family History Library resources in his own research. He discovered the library in the 1970s when he began his research on slave populations. He found that many of the probate records needed for his research had been microfilmed by the Church and were available for public use. Among his findings from this early study was evidence that the average slave woman had her first child at age 211/2 and that strict social mores were in place for the general slave population. He found that slaves were often skilled artisans and were in some cases involved in the management of large plantations.

Other studies cited by Dr. Fogel were those involving life expectancy research. From these studies, he found that the average American in the late 18th Century had a higher life expectancy than those of their 19th Century counterparts. The suspected cause for the decline in life expectancy was the increased number of people living in urban areas in the 19th Century. His studies also concluded that those who were over the age of 65 in 1910 were more likely to have had cardiovascular problems than those who were of a similar age today.

Dr. Fogel is currently using the Family History Library as well as the National Archives and other repositories to study the relationship between economic status and health issues for 40,000 Union soldiers. Dr. Fogel is joined in this research project by Dr. Larry Wimmer of BYU.

Dr. Fogel also spoke at BYU later in the afternoon on Jan. 13.

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