Data Is Plural

... is a weekly newsletter of useful/curious datasets.

2022.01.12 edition

Slaveholders in Congress, pension plans, journal editors, radio on the internet, and chocolate bar reviews.

Slaveholders in Congress. At least “1,715 members of Congress were enslavers at some point in their adult lives,” according to a Washington Post investigation published Monday. Reporter Julie Zauzmer Weil began her research with a list of every person who ever served in the House or Senate, filtered it to those born before 1840, and then consulted their biographies, Census records, and other historical documents. The Post’s public dataset, the first of its kind, lists the congressmen from that era, their dates of birth, positions held in Congress, states served, dates served, and whether the Post determined they were slaveholders. For 677 of the congressmen, the Post “couldn’t reach a conclusion” and is seeking assistance from readers.

Pension plans. Public Plans Data, a collaboration led by Boston College professor Alicia H. Munnell, gathers extensive information about the retirement plans that state and local governments offer their employees, drawn from those plans’ annual financial reports. The project maintains a range of datasets, including two decades of participation and financial figures for 200+ plans that account for “95 percent of public pension membership and assets nationwide,” their investments, early payout options, and more. It also provides interactive tools and an API.

Journal editors. For his Open Editors project, Andreas Nishikawa-Pacher scrapes the websites of scholarly journals, extracting the names, affiliations, and roles of their listed editors and board members. The project’s dataset contains half a million associations between editors and 6,000+ scholarly journals from 22 publishers (17 mainstream and 5 “predatory”). Read more: Nishikawa-Pacher et al.’s introductory working paper. And: “Why researchers created a database of half a million journal editors” (Nature Index, 2021).

Radio on the internet. is “a community driven effort (like wikipedia) with the aim of collecting as many internet radio and TV stations as possible.” The 29,000+ stations span 200+ countries and 280+ languages. You can explore them on a map, through an API, and via bulk database snapshots. [h/t jlkuester7]

Chocolate bar reviews. The Manhattan Chocolate Society’s Brady Brelinski has reviewed 2,500+ bars of craft chocolate since 2006, and compiles his findings into a copy-paste-able table that lists each bar’s manufacturer, bean origin, percent cocoa, ingredients, review notes, and numerical rating. Related: Craft chocolate makers in the US and Canada, also compiled by Brelinski. [h/t Andrew Maranhão]