The Norc Research on the Arkansas Tornado: A Fountainhead Study

Quarantelli, E. L.
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Disaster Research Center
The three volume, 960 page report, entitled Human Reactions in Disaster Situations issued in 1954 by the National Opinion Research center (NORC) at the University of Chicago, is a classic. Not because it has been widely read for very seldom do I encounter anyone who has ever seen a copy of the publication, much less perused it. Not because its specific contents are very well known and used as a starting base in current disaster research scientific circles; for different reasons the various summaries and inventories of disaster finding have not presented any of the data or findings, except by Barton who gives some limited and selective material in his now two decade old book, Communities in Disaster (1970: 130-138). And the NORC work, whether generally or specifically, is very seldom cited in the present day disaster research literature, and extremely few libraries have copies of the report. Rather our argument is the publication is a classic for two other reasons: 1) it primarily reports on what by most criteria which could be used is still the best survey study so far undertaken in the disaster area, and 2) because of the mostly unrecognized by highly significant influence the NORC work had done on the historical development of disaster studies in the United States and on how much of the current research in the area is conducted.
National Opinion Research Center (NORC) , tornado , Arkansas