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A. Ross Eckler (1965-1969): A. Ross Eckler spent most of his professional career at the Census Bureau, working his way up through the ranks to eventually become director. Born in Van Hornesville, NY, in 1901, he lived on a farm with his parents until moving away for college. He graduated from Hamilton College with an A.B. in 1922, playing on the school’s football and track teams while also achieving academically.
After his time at Hamilton, Eckler taught at the Tom School, a private boarding school in Port Deposit, MD. He then held a succession of jobs at Harvard University while earning his master’s degree and Ph.D. there in 1934. He then took a position as chief of the special inquiries division and director of research at the Works Progress Administration.
In 1939, Eckler came to the Census Bureau, taking a job as chief of the economic statistics in the Population Division. He became assistant chief of that division before becoming chief of the Special Surveys Division and chief social scientist. In 1949, he became assistant director of the Census Bureau, a position he held until 1965. That year, President Johnson appointed him director, where he remained until he retired at the end of Johnson's presidency in 1969. Eckler died in 1991 in Maryland. After he retired, Eckler participated in the Census Bureau's oral history program [PDF 612k].
George Hay Brown (1969-1973): George Hay Brown was born in February 1910 in Denver, CO, where his father was a doctor with the U.S. Army. His family moved to Detroit, MI when he was still a child and he grew up in that city. He graduated with a B.A. from Oberlin College in 1929; originally planning to follow his father into medicine, while at school he decided to pursue marketing. In 1931, he earned his M.B.A. from Harvard University.
Brown worked in marketing in the private sector until 1937, when he joined the faculty at the University of Chicago, earning his Ph.D. In 1943, he served as a consultant to the War Production Board before returning to academics. He was director of the university's Business Problems Bureau from 1950 until 1954, and developed linkages between the School of Social Science and the School of Business. At the same time, he served as a marketing consultant for several Midwestern companies, including the Chicago Tribune and General Mills.
Brown left the University of Chicago in 1954, taking a job with Ford Motor Company as a consumer research manager. At Ford, he was part of the team that planned the company's expansion into Western Europe. President Nixon appointed Brown director of the Census Bureau in July 1969 in time for the final preparations for the 1970 census.
Brown stayed on at the Census Bureau until 1973. He died in 1991 on Sea Island, Georgia. The American Marketing Association established a scholarship in his name, honoring graduate-level marketing students.
Vincent P. Barabba (1973-76 and 1979-81): Vincent Barabba was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1934. He graduated from Woodbury Business College in 1954. After earning his undergraduate degree, Barabba enlisted in the Air Force, serving from 1954 until 1958. After his stint in the military, he attended California State University and eventually earned his M.B.A. from the University of California in 1964.
Barabba became president of Datamatics, Inc. in 1966, and was later named chairman of the board of Decision Making Information. He served as chairman until 1973, when he was tapped by President Nixon to replace the retiring George Hay Brown as director of the Census Bureau.
Vincent Barabba resigned as director in 1976, taking a job as manager of market research for the Xerox Corporation. He returned to the Census Bureau, however, in 1979 after the director Manuel Plotkin resigned shortly before the 1980 census. Barabba guided the Census Bureau through the collection and tabulation of census data from 1980 before resigning again in 1981.
Barabba served as director of market intelligence for the Eastman Kodak Company from 1981 until 1986. He was then named executive director of market research and planning for the General Motors Corporation, a position he held until 2003. He is currently the chairman of the Market Insight Corporation.
Vincent Barabba was the first and, to date, only director of the Census Bureau to be appointed by two different presidents. In fact, he is the first person since the establishment of a permanent Census Bureau to ever serve two separate tours as official director. Barabba has participated in the Census Bureau's oral history program [PDF 266k].