James A. Davis was born in Chicago in 1929 and died on September 29, 2016 in hospice at Saint Anthony Hospital in Michigan City, Indiana, surrounded by his family.
Jim Davis was an enormously respected figure in the field of sociology. He joined NORC in 1957, and served as its Director from 1971 to 1975. An important part of his legacy is that he was founder, in 1971, of the General Social Survey, and was a principal investigator for GSS through 2009. His work on the GSS lead directly to the creation of the International Social Survey Program, which he helped found. As a scholar he divided his time among three institutions, the University of Chicago, Princeton University, and Harvard University, where he chaired the Sociology department in the 1980s and served as a House Master. Among Jim’s many honors was the AAPOR Award for Exceptionally Distinguished Achievement in 1992, recognizing his “innovations in teaching, his prodigious scholarship, (and) his creation of the General Social Survey”, as well as various awards from the Roper Center, Harvard University, and the American Sociological Association. He was a graduate of Northwestern University, with his Master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin and his Ph.D. from Harvard University. His obituary can be found here.