Wargon, Sylvia T(ruster) 1924-

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WARGON, Sylvia T(ruster) 1924-

PERSONAL: Born December 3, 1924, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada; daughter of Nathan (a designer of women's apparel) and Sophie (a homemaker; maiden name, Kleinmintz) Truster; children: Avivah, Sholom David. Ethnicity: "Jewish." Education: University of Toronto, B.A. (with honors), 1946, doctoral study, 1947-49; University of Illinois, M.A. (with honors), 1947. Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: Reading.

ADDRESSES: Home—515 St. Laurent Blvd., No. 639, Ottawa, Ontario K1K 3X5, Canada. Offıce—c/o Census and Demographic Statistics Branch, Statistics Canada, 4th Floor, Jean Talon Bldg., Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0T6, Canada; fax: 613-951-0686. E-mail—sylvia. [email protected]

CAREER: Boy Scouts of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, sociological, statistical, and demographic researcher, 1958-62; Statistics Canada, Ottawa, analyst in Social Analysis Section, 1962-68, staff member, 1968-73, acting chief of Demographic Analysis and Research Section, 1973-74, senior characteristics officer with Housing and Families Group, 1974-80, chief of Family and Social Characteristics Section, 1980-83, chief of analytical services, 1983-86, chief of special research project, 1986-87, senior research analyst, 1988-93, retired, 1993. Guest speaker at McGill University, 1996, and University of Western Ontario, 2001. Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, member of National Selection Committee on the Family and Socialization of Children, 1981-83.

MEMBER: International Union for the Scientific Study of Population, International Sociological Association, International Society for the History of the Social and Behavioral Sciences, Canadian Population Society (charter member), Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science, Canadian Science and Technology Historical Association, Population Association of America, Social Science Historical Association, L'Association des démographes du Québec.


Demography in Canada in the Twentieth Century, University of British Columbia Press (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2002.

Contributor to books, including Marriage, Family, and Society: Canadian Perspectives, edited by S. Parvez Wakil, Butterworth, 1975; Race and Racism: Canada's Challenge, edited by L. Driedger and S. Halli, McGill-Queen's University Press (Kingston, Ontario, Canada), 2000; and The Age of Numbers: Statistical Systems and National Traditions, edited by J. P. Beaud and J. G. Prévost, Les presses de l'Université du Québec à Montréal, 2000. Contributor of articles and reviews to periodicals, including Canadian Journal of Sociology, Optimum: Journal of Public Sector Management, Canadian Statistical Review, International Journal of Sociology of the Family, Journal of Comparative Family Studies, Journal of Marriage and the Family, Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science, and numerous Canadian census bulletins. Member of editorial board, Canadian Studies in Population, beginning 1986, and Cahiers québecois de démographie, 1987-91.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Writing about the history of demography, sociology, and statistics in England and other related subjects.

SIDELIGHTS: Sylvia T. Wargon told CA: "I completed undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto. Along the way, I encountered demography, the science of population, in the work of Enid Charles, the British demographer and population statistics specialist who, as visiting scholar in Canada from 1940 to 1946, conducted and published demographic research about this country. I instinctively sensed that demography was a field I would one day explore.

"I then left Toronto for Ottawa (not without regret) and a break of about eight years devoted to home and family. During that time, I continued to read a great deal and to reflect on my training and brief experience in sociology. Though I felt that I had chosen a field that suited me, there was a lingering dissatisfaction with the research methods and the jargon then popular with sociologists: I was not convinced that they appropriately embodied the 'empirical approach' taught and stressed in the sociological literature of the time. In this period the scope of my self-directed reading program was broad and eclectic and, among a number of authors, I discovered George Orwell, his fiction and nonfiction. In an essay on writing, I was particularly struck by Orwell's emphasis on the relationship between clear writing and clear thinking. This made a profound and lasting impression. Henceforth, whatever I wrote was subjected to this maxim as a rule to be followed: if a sentence was not clear, it was reworked until it satisfied the 'clear thinking' test. To my mind, I had found the solution to dispensing with jargon and writing clearly so that all readers, whatever their background, could understand.

"I returned to full-time employment in 1958, doing social and demographic research. In 1962 I won a competition for the post of demographer in Canada's federal government statistical agency, the Dominion Bureau of Statistics (now Statistics Canada). I toiled in the census jurisdiction of the bureau for more than three decades. In the late 1960s my interest shifted to the development of the demographic use of the Canadian household, family, and children data not heretofore systematically explored in Canada. In connection with the work I wrote technical and analytical papers and bulletins for the standard census volumes. Research results also appeared as articles in scholarly journals, monographs, and mini-monographs.

"Along the way, I developed an interest in the history of science studies and designed a project to write the social and institutional history of demography in Canada, subsequently pursued and completed in retirement from Statistics Canada. In 2002 my book was published as Demography in Canada in the Twentieth Century.

"I continue to conduct and publish research on the history of sociology, statistics and demography, and related subjects, always making every effort to avoid jargon and to subject my work to the rule that clear writing is a reflection of clear thinking."



Canadian Journal of Sociology, summer, 2002, Karol J. Krotki, review of Demography in Canada in the Twentieth Century, p. 469.