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Director Biographies

Directors 1909 - 1921

Edward Dana DurandEdward Dana Durand (1909-1913): Durand was born, in 1871, in Romeo, Michigan. When he was still a child, however, his parents moved to a homestead in South Dakota. Durand attended Yankton College for one year before transferring to Oberlin College. He received a Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1896. After receiving his doctorate, Durand moved between several government and academic positions until 1909, when he became deputy commissioner of corporations. Later that year, President Taft appointed him the new director of the census. He replaced Samuel North, who had left after repeated clashes with the secretary of commerce and labor, and took over the Census Bureau well into the planning process for the 1910 census.

Durand concentrated much of his energy on improving the preparation of census reports. He pioneered several lasting innovations in the presentation of data at the Census Bureau. For example, Durand introduced the publication of state-level reports and the early release in press releases of statistics for which there was the greatest demand (such as the total population of individual cities, states, and the United States population). These releases were be followed by bulletins, abstracts, and final reports with greater detail.

After leaving the Census Bureau in 1913, Durand eventually took a place on the U.S. Tariff Commission, where he served from 1935 until his retirement in 1952. He died in 1960.

William J. HarrisWilliam J. Harris (1913-1915): William Harris was born in Cedartown, Georgia in 1868. His father was a surgeon in the Confederate Army. Harris graduated from the University of Georgia in 1890, and began several years moving back and forth between the public and private sectors; he worked in the insurance and banking industry before becoming secretary to Senator Alexander Clay. After this, Harris turned to entrepreneurship, founding both the Georgia Fire Insurance Company and the Farmers’ & Mechanics’ Bank.

In 1910, running as a Democrat, Harris won a seat in the Georgia state senate. Harris ran Woodrow Wilson’s presidential campaign in Georgia; Wilson rewarded this effort by appointing him director of the Census Bureau when he came into office in 1913. Harris stayed at the Census Bureau for only two years, resigning in 1915 when Wilson appointed him to the newly created Federal Trade Commission. In 1918, he won a seat in the U.S. Senate and represented Georgia there until his death in 1932.

Samuel Lyle RogersSamuel Lyle Rogers (1915-1921): Samuel Rogers was born in Franklin, North Carolina in 1859. He was a clerk of the Superior Court of Macon County, North Carolina from 1892 until 1893; collector of internal revenue for the western district of North Carolina from 1895 until 1897; and a member of the North Carolina State Corporation Commission from 1899 until 1911. He was director of the Bank of Franklin at the time of his appointment as director of the Census Bureau. Rogers oversaw the census of 1920, and played a key role in drafting the authorizing legislation for that census. He died in 1925.

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Census History Staff | Last Revised: January 05, 2022