October 26, 1907 - August 13, 1963
Margaret Jarman Hagood made significant contributions to the application of statistics to sociological research. Her landmark book, Statistics for Sociologists, published in 1941, influenced the social sciences to become more quantitative and to embrace statistical methodologies.
Margaret Jarman was born in Georgia, the second child and second daughter among the six children of Lewis and Laura Jarman. Lewis Jarman was a mathematician by training who actively encouraged all of his daughters to pursue their education. Margaret briefly attended Chicora College in Columbia, S.C., and also spent one semester at Agnes Scott College during the spring of 1926 (where she took a course in differential calculus). She left Agnes Scott after that semester to marry Middleton Hagood, a childhood sweetheart, but in 1929 graduated with an AB degree from Queen's College in Charlotte, N.C., where her father was president. During this time she also gave birth to her only daughter. Margaret and Middleton were divorced in 1936.
Hagood went on to earn a Master's degree in mathematics from Emory University in 1930. After teaching mathematics for several years at the National Park Seminary for girls near Washington, D.C., she entered the graduate sociology program at the University of North Carolina, where she specialized in sociological statistics and demography (the science of vital and social statistics of populations.) She completed her Ph.D. in 1937 with a thesis that contained a "pioneering statistical analysis of the fertility patterns of white women in the rural southeast" [Scott 297]. These studies were eventually published in 1939 as part of her book on Mothers of the South.
After receiving her Ph.D., Hagood held a research and teaching appointment in the Institute for Research on the Social Sciences at the University of North Carolina. Part of her responsibilities was to teach a course in statistics for the graduate students in sociology. From this course came her influential text on Statistics for Sociologists. In 1942 she moved to the Bureau of Agricultural Economics at the United States Department of Agriculture. She spent the academic year 1951-52 as a visiting professor at the University of Wisconsin, and in 1952 she was named head of the Farm Population and Rural Life Division of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. Among her achievements was the development of the widely used county level-of-living indexes. She may have been the first to use techniques like analysis of variance and covariance, factor analysis, and principle components for the solution of problems in demography and agricultural economics. She published numerous research reports and articles in the field of demography, and spent considerable time lecturing and consulting at colleges and universities. She was influential in planning the Census of 1950 and the Census of 1960 as a member of the Census Bureau's Technical Advisory Committee on Population. Ill health from a rheumatic heart condition forced her to retire in 1962. She died a year later of a heart attack.
Hagood received many honors during her life. She was a Director of the American Statistical Association from 1953 to 1955, served as President of the Population Association of American in 1955, and was President of the Rural Sociological Society in 1956. She was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Queens College in 1955. Scott concludes her article about Hagood by writing:
She takes her place as a pioneer in two fields, statistics and demography, which were to become central to the study of sociology in the late twentieth century.