Skip to main content

Middletown III project records

Identifier: MSC-001

Scope and Contents

This collection contains records from the Middletown III research project ranging from 1890 to 1996 and includes correspondence, grant proposals, project planning and procedural records, articles and publications, unpublished manuscripts, questionnaire survey forms, codebooks, cross tabulations, frequency charts, transferences, interview transcripts and notes, reference material, photographs, and video recordings. The collection primarily consists of records generated during the course of the research project conducted in Muncie, Indiana between circa 1976 and 1982 but also includes records pertaining to previous Middletown research studies conducted by Robert and Helen Lynd as well as records created after the official conclusion of the project.


  • Creation: 1890 - 1996
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1971 - 1989

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Separated materials are restricted. Contact the repository for more information.

Copyright Notice

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries, Muncie, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Archives and Special Collections.

Historical Note

Funded by the National Science Foundation from 1976 to 1981, the Middletown III project was a systematic replication and extension of the sociological research conducted by Robert and Helen Lynd in Muncie, Indiana in the 1920s and 1930s. The goal of the Middletown III research project was to identify patterns of social change that had occurred in Muncie during the forty years since the Lynds' last study through a combination of participant observation, examination of documentary material, compilation of statistics, questionnaire surveys, and in-depth interviews.

The principal investigators for the Middletown III project, Theodore Caplow of the University of Virginia and Howard M. Bahr of Brigham Young University, were assisted by numerous researchers including Bruce A. Chadwick of Brigham Young University, Reuben Hill of the University of Minnesota, and Dwight Hoover of Ball State University. The findings from the Middletown III research project were published in the books Middletown Families: Fifty Years of Change and Continuity (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1982) and All Faithful People: Change and Continuity in Middletown's Religion (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1983), as well as in numerous articles and conference presentations.

The following surveys were administered during the Middletown III project: American Family Roles Survey (1977), Community Survey (1978), Christmas Survey (1979), Family Dynamics Survey (1976-1977), Government Services Survey (1978), High School Survey (1977, 1989), Kinship Survey (1978), Men's Occupational Survey (1978), Ministers' Survey (1981) Neighborhood Survey (1978), Organization Survey (1977), Recreation and Leisure Survey (1982), Religion Survey (1978), and Women's Occupational Survey (1978).

The American Family Roles Survey was a mail questionnaire survey conducted in the spring of 1977 and included questions about spouse role performance and expectations, marital satisfaction, and close friendships.

The Christmas Survey was an interview survey conducted in the spring of 1979 and included questions about how the respondents' families celebrated the Christmas holiday in 1978. This smaller survey was administer a year and a half after the closing of the project's field office in Muncie in an effort to obtain additional information about families that could be analyzed in conjunction with findings from the Kinship Survey and Family Dynamics Survey.

The Community Survey was an interview survey conducted in the summer of 1978. Respondents were asked about living in Muncie, their job history, reasons to work, and the advantages gained from working. The survey also included questions about spouse employment and vacation, household roles, activities, expenses, close friendships, important qualities in boys and girls, educational plans for their children, and opinions on other topics.

The Family Dynamics Survey consisted of in-depth interviews with individual husbands and wives (rather than couples interviewed together) conducted between December 1976 and June 1977. Most of the interviews lasted at least two hours and most respondents participated in at least two interview sessions. During the interviews, respondents were asked questions from the American Family Roles Survey and the Kinship Survey, as well as additional questions pertaining to marital satisfaction, desirable qualities in spouses, how the respondent's own situation compared with that of other couples, changing social expectations for lifetime partnerships, attitudes about various tasks associated with family life, sex-role stereotypes, and expectations and hopes for the future.

The Government Services Survey was a mail questionnaire survey conducted in the spring of 1978. The survey asked respondents about their awareness and utilization of local, state, and federal governmental programs; their participation in the 1976 Presidential, 1974 Indiana Congressional, and 1975 Muncie city elections; service in the armed forces; and housing.

The High School Survey was an administered questionnaire survey conducted in the winter of 1977 and replicated in 1989. The survey queried respondents about the number of years they attended Muncie schools, membership in extra-curricular activities, sex education, curriculum, grades and schoolwork, books and magazines read that were not assigned, and future plans after high school. Respondents were also asked about close friendships, relationships with their parents, work outside of school, activities on Sunday, and their opinions about personal, political, and social issues.

The Kinship Survey was a mail questionnaire survey conducted between October 1976 and February 1977. The survey asked respondents to identify where and how long they had lived at a location in relation to Muncie. In addition, respondents were asked for demographic information about their spouse, mother and father (their own and their spouse's), siblings, cousins, and children, their relationship and interactions with them, including their participation in different types of activities together, giving or receiving of goods or services, and frequency of communication.

The Men's Occupational Survey was a mail questionnaire survey conducted in the spring and summer of 1978 with adult working men about their work experiences. Respondents who were married were asked about the influence of their work experiences on their family life.

The Ministers' Survey was a mail questionnaire survey of the characteristics of Muncie's churches and their ministers conducted in the spring of 1978. Respondents were drawn from the 217 ministers listed in the Directory of Christian Ministers of Delaware County. The survey included questions about the social characteristics of the congregation, the church's religious activities, and the role of the minister in the church.

The Neighborhood Survey was an interview survey administered in seventeen Muncie neighborhoods between May and July 1977. The seventeen neighborhoods were delineated using US Census tracts for the city of Muncie and twenty-one households were selected for each neighborhood. Respondents were asked about their residence in the neighborhood and their intent to remain at or move from their current location, the extent of their contact with local friends and relatives, their involvement in community organizations, and the distance between their home and workplace.

The Organization Survey was a mail questionnaire survey conducted in the spring and summer of 1977. The survey was sent to leaders of various business, civic, and social clubs and organizations in Muncie including labor unions and professional organizations, fraternal organizations, local 4-H clubs, and neighborhood associations. Respondents from each organization were asked about the size and characteristics of their membership, the organization's history and purpose, content of meetings, cost of membership, and the organization's ties to other organizations in the community.

The Recreation and Leisure Survey was a mail questionnaire survey conducted in 1982. Respondents were queried about attendance at professional sporting events; participation in sports and household activities; visiting particular recreational locations; owning recreational, electronic, or entertainment equipment; and playing a musical instrument. In addition, the survey posed questions about membership in groups and organizations, vacations, religious behaviors, and books or magazines read.

The Religion Survey was a mail questionnaire survey of religious beliefs and practices conducted in the summer of 1978. Respondents were asked about their religious beliefs and values, religious behavior, attitudes toward various religious groups, and perceptions of religion in relation to family life.

The Women's Occupational Survey was a mail questionnaire survey conducted in the spring of 1978. The survey was sent to adult women including female heads of households, women living alone, and wives of male heads of households. Respondents were asked to provide a complete marital history including number of times and age married, status of the marriage, number of children born in each marriage, marital satisfaction, relationship with their spouse, causes of disagreements with their spouse, and household roles. The survey also included questions about job training and requirements, job satisfaction, job discrimination, and how work had affected their relationships with their children and spouse.


Caplow, Theodore, Howard Bahr, Bruce Chadwick, Vaughn R.A. Call, and Louis Hicks. Compilation of Middletown III and Middletown IV Data, 1977-1999 [Muncie, Indiana]. ICPSR04604-v2. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], October 16, 2007. (last accessed June 29, 2016).

"The Middletown III Surveys" (Appendix B) in Caplow et al., Middletown Families: Fifty Years of Change and Continuity (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1982), pp. 395-404.


64.2 Cubic Feet (55 boxes, 4 oversize folders, 156 oversize computer print-outs)

Language of Materials



Arranged in the following series and subseries:

Series 1: Administrative project records, 1930-1996

Subseries 1.1: Correspondence, 1936-1996

Subseries 1.2: Grant proposals, 1971-1989

Subseries 1.3: Planning and procedural records, 1970-1985

Subseries 1.4: Project staff meeting records, 1976-1985

Subseries 1.5: Project notes and presentations, 1930-1988

Subseries 1.6: Survey and coding material, 1976-1988

Series 2: Articles and publications, 1950-1996

Subseries 2.1: General Middletown articles and publications, 1950-1996

Subseries 2.2: Middletown Revisited manuscripts and supporting documents, 1976-1994

Series 3: Reference material, 1890-1990

Subseries 3.1: General reference material, 1890-1987

Subseries 3.2: Community survey reference material, 1938-1989

Subseries 3.3: Education and High School survey reference material, 1923-1990

Subseries 3.4: Family roles survey reference material, 1970-1980

Subseries 3.5: Government services survey reference material, 1954-1986

Subseries 3.6: Neighborhood survey reference material. 1950-1977

Subseries 3.7: Organization survey reference material, 1965-1987

Subseries 3.8: Recreation and leisure survey reference material, 1976-1987

Subseries 3.9: Religion survey reference material, 1945-1982

Subseries 3.10: Work and Women's occupational survey reference material, 1920-1987

Subseries 3.11: Middletown Super Census, 1910-1990

Series 4: American Family Roles Survey records, 1974-1994

Subseries 4.1: American Family Roles surveys, 1977

Subseries 4.2: American Family Roles survey codebooks and cross tabulations, 1977-1994

Subseries 4.3: American Family Roles survey notes, 1976-1980

Subseries 4.4: American Family Roles survey frequency tables and transferences, 1974-1986

Series 5: Christmas Survey records, 1979

Series 6: Community Survey records, 1973-1989

Subseries 6.1: Community surveys, 1976

Subseries 6.2: Community survey codebook and cross tabulations, 1973-1989

Subseries 6.3: Community survey frequency tables and transferences, 1978-1987

Subseries 6.4: Community survey interviews, 1976-1987

Subseries 6.5: Community survey notes, 1977

Series 7: Government Services Survey records, 1978-1980

Subseries 7.1: Government Services surveys, 1978

Subseries 7.2: Government Services survey codebooks, interviews, and compilations, 1978-1980

Series 8: High School Survey records, 1976-1989

Subseries 8.1: High School surveys, 1976

Subseries 8.2: High School surveys, 1989

Subseries 8.3: High School survey codebooks and cross tabulations, 1976-1989

Subseries 8.4: High School survey frequency tables and transferences, 1977-1989

Subseries 8.5: High School survey interviews, 1977, 1985

Subseries 8.6: High School survey notes, 1977-1989

Series 9: Kinship Survey records, 1976-1986

Subseries 9.1: Kinship surveys, 1978

Subseries 9.2: Kinship survey codebooks and cross tabulations, 1976-1986

Subseries 9.3: Kinship survey reports and analysis, 1976-1983

Subseries 9.4: Kinship survey frequency tables, 1977-1979

Series 10: Men's Occupational Survey records, 1978-1986

Subseries 10.1: Getting a Living in Middletown surveys, 1978

Subseries 10.2: Getting a Living in Middletown survey codebooks, cross tabulations, frequencies, and notes, 1978-1986

Series 11: Middletown Family Dynamics interviews, 1976-1977

Series 12: Ministers' Survey and interview records, 1981

Series 13: Neighborhood Survey records, 1976-1980

Subseries 13.1: Neighborhood surveys, maps, and profiles, 1977

Subseries 13.2: Neighborhood survey codebooks and crosstabulations, 1976-1980

Subseries 13.3: Neighborhood survey tables, frequencies, and transferences, 1977

Subseries 13.4: Neighborhood survey notes and photographs, 1977

Series 14: Organization Survey records, 1976-1987

Subseries 14.1: Organization inventory surveys, 1976

Subseries 14.2: Organization inventory survey codebooks, frequency tables, and transferences, 1977-1987

Subseries 14.3: Organization inventory survey notes and correspondence, 1976-1977

Series 15: Recreation and Leisure Survey records, 1982-1986

Subseries 15.1: Recreation and leisure surveys, 1982

Subseries 15.2: Recreation and leisure survey codebooks and cross tabulations, 1982-1985

Subseries 15.3: Recreation and leisure survey frequency tables and transferences, 1982-1986

Series 16: Religion Survey records, 1977-1989

Subseries 16.1: Religion in Middletown surveys, 1978

Subseries 16.2: Religion in Middletown survey codebooks and cross tabulations, 1977-1989

Subseries 16.3: Religion in Middletown survey frequency tables and transferences, 1978-1981

Subseries 16.4: Religion in Middletown survey notes and analysis, 1978-1980

Series 17: Women's Occupational Survey records, 1977-1986

Subseries 17.1: Women in Middletown surveys, 1978

Subseries 17.2: Women's occupational survey codebook and cross tabulations, 1977-1986

Subseries 17.3: Women's occupational survey frequency tables and transferences, 1980

Series 18: Photographs, circa 1920-1978

Series 19: Video recordings, 1983

Custodial History

This collection was received by Archives and Special Collections as a donation. An addition was received from Howard M. Bahr on 2014/9/23.


No additions expected.

Related Materials

Materials relating to this collection may be found in the following collections in Archives and Special Collections, Ball State University Libraries, Muncie IN:

MSC.002: Black Middletown project records

MSC.027: Middletown IV project records

Processing Information

Intitial collection processing completed in 2009 by Jennifer Morrill. An addition was processed and added to the collection in 2016 by Emily Rapoza, Cody Sprunger, Audra Butler, and Brandon Pieczko. EAD finding aid created 2012/01/11 by Bethany Fiechter. EAD finding aid was updated on 2016/6/29 by Brandon Pieczko.

Middletown III project records
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Middletown Studies Collection Repository

Alexander M. Bracken Library
2000 W. University Avenue
Muncie Indiana USA