Under a grant to Columbia University from the Ford Foundation for "machine-tooling research in the behavioral sciences" I was allotted $60,000 to conduct a study of the impact of the media of communication in the general area of public affairs. With such a broad purpose to arrive at definitive findings would require research of tremendous scope over a considerable time. With the limited funds made available it was decided to focus the field investigation on a small, organized community with a reasonably representative range of age and occupations. For a number of reasons, including my familiarity with the community over a quarter of a century and the availability of field workers, Bennington, Vermont was chosen as the locus for the study.
In addition to the major field investigation through extensive interviews carried on in 1954-55 I commissioned a number of smaller studies designed to provide reliable knowledge of the political, economic, and organizational background of the community within which the informal processes of communication, personal relationships and attitudes had their setting. One such study was an economic history of the town. For this I was fortunate in obtaining the services of Rush Walter of the history faculty of Bennington College. Dr. Welter's study along with others will contribute materially to the general report of the Communications Study when it is published. But the Welter report seemed to me to deserve separate publication as an illuminating case history of American industrial development.
It is, therefore, being published in a limited edition by the graduate School of Library Service, Columbia University, to which the allotment of University funds for the whole study was made, and is being distributed for the School by the Columbia University Bookstore.
Robert D. Leigh
Director, the Bennington Communications Study