Retirement in the 1950s:

Rebuilding a Longitudinal Research Database

  • Amy M. Pienta University of Michigan
  • Jared Lyle University of Michigan


In 2010, ICPSR began a long process of recovering data from Gordon Streib’s Cornell Study of Occupational Retirement (CSOR). Because the unique data fill a gap in our understanding of US retirement history, we determined that an extensive data recovery project was warranted. This paper describes the scope of the data collection and the steps in ICPSR’s recovery process. Though the data recovery was ultimately successful, this paper documents the amount of time invested and costs associated with this kind of recovery work. It also highlights the value of these data for future research in understanding gender and retirement in a historic context. In addition to the resulting publicly available data arising from this project, extensive paper medical records are housed at ICPSR for on-site analysis or for a future digitization project. These data would provide unique health information on older women and men traced over a period of time in the 1950s and represents future work for ICPSR to undertake.

Dec 12, 2017