Dan Bouk


Colgate University

Associate Professor of History, Chair, Department of History

Dan Bouk researches the history of bureaucracies, quantification and other modern things shrouded in cloaks of boringness. See the most recent info on his research.

Bouk studied computational mathematics as an undergraduate at Michigan State before earning a Ph.D. in history from Princeton University. His work investigates the ways corporations, states and the experts they employ have used, abused, made and re-made the categories that structure our daily experiences of being human. His first book, “How Our Days Became Numbered: Risk and the Rise of the Statistical Individual” (Chicago, 2015), explored the life insurance industry's methods for quantifying people, discriminating by race, justifying inequality and for thinking statistically in the U.S. His new book “Democracy's Data: The Hidden Stories in the U.S. Census and How to Read Them,” published by MCD/Farrar, Straus and Giroux, was one of The New York Times 100 Notable Books in 2022. In an age when we often hear good governance requires that we depend on good data, it is crucial everyone (and not just those in quantitative fields) understand and can work to improve the processes that make data from people. “Democracy's Data” is a history of the 1940 census that will prepare its readers to examine and critique the data-driven systems that surround us. Bouk blogs about his on-going research at shroudedincloaksofboringness.com.


Contributions by Dan Bouk

  • The US Census: Enabling Research, Informing Funding, Understanding Society
    Speaker at IAPP Global Privacy Summit 2023
  • Closing General Session
    Speaker at IAPP Global Privacy Summit 2023