T. J. Woofter, Jr. and government social science research during the New Deal, World War II, and the Cold War

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The work of southern sociologist Thomas Jackson Woofter Jr. (1893-1972) is frequently cited by American historians, but his contribution to government policy on agriculture in the New Deal, Social Security in the 1940s, and demography in the Cold War remains underappreciated. He left the University of North Carolina to direct government research on rural relief in the 1930s, Social Security enhancement during and after World War II, and foreign population and manpower projections during the Cold War. Contributing to the delivery of essential programs in key agencies, he participated in internal and external debates over policy and social attitudes between 1930 and 1960. Woofter worked for the Federal Emergency Relief Administration, the Works Progress Administration, the Farm Security Agency, the Federal Security Agency, and the Central Intelligence Agency, improving data-gathering and assisting transitions in federal policymaking. This article assesses his role in those agencies, using official records, other primary materials, and secondary sources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-272
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Policy History
Issue number3
Early online date7 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2020


  • Thomas Jackson (Jack) Woofter, Jr.
  • social science
  • US social attitudes
  • government policy
  • rural life
  • social security
  • welfare
  • Cold War
  • World War II
  • New Deal

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