by the numbers
readers may be interested to know that the article and letters
about office chaos ("Kings of Chaos," June/01, and "Letters,"
August/01) reflect at least partially the "perception" (to use
the favorite fatuous word of the radical post-realists of the
late 1960s) that the University is suffering an ever-worsening
"office space crisis." My office, SS 204, for example, looked
like a classical sweatshop in the dozen years 1985-97 when typically
five students at any time were coding the 108,000 computer records
that served as the basis of my Economy and Material Culture
of Russia 1600-1725 (Chicago, 1999). SS 204 also has served
as the editorial office of the quarterly journal Russian History
for 15 years. (Some journals on campus have an office just for
that.) In my case, the coup de grace occurred a year ago, when
for the first time in three decades the University became a National
Resource Center for East European, Eurasian/Russian Studies (CEERES).
The four other Chicago NRCs (East Asia, South Asia, Middle East,
and Latin America) have two rooms or even a suite, but CEERES
has a desk in 204 that was already here. Then there are the usual
piles for the half-dozen articles, lectures, and books in progress
at any one time.
am not alone in this "perception." For many years humanities emeriti
professors have been asked to vacate their offices upon retirement.
Recently one of my colleagues was asked to vacate a closet (where
he was storing his archive) so that it could be given as an office
to a new professor. Slavic faculty members are being asked to
share offices. This is no doubt something about which more will
be written in the years to come.
Hellie, AB'58, AM'60, PhD'65
Hellie is the Thomas E. Donnelley professor in history and
the College. He also chairs the College's Russian Civilization
program, is director of the Center for East European, Eurasian/Russian
Studies (CEERES), and is editor of Russian History.-Ed.
enjoyed "Kings of Chaos" and have a question. There is some information
in the piece on economist Robert Fogel that ties into a subject
I am dealing with in a children's book on the economy. I am trying
to decipher the meaning of the quote in the second paragraph from
the bottom: "In 1800 it took five people working on the farm to
provide food for one person off the farm-80 percent of the labor
force was in agriculture. Today only 2 percent of the labor force
feeds 100 people off the farm-half of our agriculture output gets
comparative figures don't make sense to me; they are not consistently
stated. If in 1800 it took 5 people on a farm to provide food
for one off the farm, how many does it take to feed 100 off the
farm today? According to the article, Professor Fogel says that
2 percent of the labor force, but there's no way to compare that
to the 5 to 1 ratio of 1800. Is it now 5 to 100? I would appreciate
it if you could get a clarification from him.
Norman L. Macht, PhB'47
The correct ratios, responds Professor Fogel, are actually
"4 to 1 in 1800, 1 in 200 today."-Ed.