Southern Women Data Set


This is a data set of 18 women observed over a nine-month period. During that period, various subsets of these women met in a series of 14 informal social events. The data recored which women met for which events.


Each of the vertices in this two mode network has a 'name', representing a woman or event.


This data is originally from Davis, Gardner and Gardner (1941) via UCINET. This documentation is taken from Freeman (2003) in his usual lucid description. See the reference to the paper below:

In the 1930s, five ethnographers, Allison Davis, Elizabeth Stubbs Davis, Burleigh B. Gardner, Mary R. Gardner and J. G. St. Clair Drake, collected data on stratification in Natchez, Mississippi (Warner, 1988, p. 93). They produced the book cited below (Davis, et al., 1941) that reported a comparative study of social class in black and in white society. One element of this work involved examining the correspondence between people's social class levels and their patterns of informal interaction. Davis et. al was concerned with the issue of how much the informal contacts made by individuals were established solely (or primarily) with others at approximately their own class levels. To address this question the authors collected data on social events and examined people's patterns of informal contacts.

In particular, they collected systematic data on the social activities of 18 women whom they observed over a nine-month period. During that period, various subsets of these women had met in a series of 14 informal social events. The participation of women in events was uncovered using “interviews, the records of participant observers, guest lists, and the newspapers” (Davis et al., p. 149). Homans (1950, p. 82), who presumably had been in touch with the research team, reported that the data reflect joint activities like, “a day's work behind the counter of a store, a meeting of a women's club, a church supper, a card party, a supper party, a meeting of the Parent-Teacher Association, etc.”

This data set has several interesting properties. It is small and manageable. It embodies a relatively simple structural pattern, one in which, according to Davis et al., the women seemed to organize themselves into two more or less distinct groups. Moreover, they reported that the positions - core and peripheral - of the members of these groups could also be determined in terms of the ways in which different women had been involved in group activities.

At the same time, the Souther Women data set is complicated enough that some of the details of its patterning are less than obvious. As Homans (1950, p. 84) put it, “The pattern is frayed at the edges.“ And, finally, this data set comes to us in a two-mode “woman by event” form. Thus, it provides an opportunity to explore methods designed for direct application to two-mode data. But at the same time, it can easily be transformed into two one-mode matrices (woman by woman or event by event) that can be examined using tools for one-mode analysis.

Because of these properties, this Souther Women data set has become something of a touchstone for comparing analytic methods in social network analysis. Davis, Gardner and Gardner presented an intuitive interpretation of the data, based in part on their ethnographic experience in the community. Then the Souther Women data set was picked up by Homans (1950) who provided an alternative intuitive interpretation. In 1972, Phillips and Conviser used an analytic tool, based on information theory, that provided a systematic way to reexamine the Souther Women data. Since then, this data set has been analyzed again and again. It reappears whenever any network analyst wants to explore the utility of some new tool for analyzing data.

Licenses and Citation

Southern Women Data Set (1941)
A citation to the original published source; if the data was obtained from a secondary published source (e.g., data republished in Wasserman and Faust), an appropriately labeled citation should indicate this fact.

If the source of the data set does not specified otherwise, this data set is protected by the Creative Commons License


Vladimir Batagelj and Andrej Mrvar (2006): Pajek datasets


Davis, A., Gardner, B. B. and M. R. Gardner (1941) Deep South, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Linton C. Freeman (2003). Finding Social Groups: A Meta-Analysis of the Southern Women Data, In Ronald Breiger, Kathleen Carley and Philippa Pattison, eds. Dynamic Social Network Modeling and Analysis. Washington: The National Academies Press.
When publishing results obtained using this data set the original authors should be cited. In addition this package should be cited as:
Christopher L. DuBois, Emma S. Spiro, Zack Almquist, Mark S. Handcock, David Hunter, Carter T. Butts, Steven M. Goodreau, and Martina Morris. 2003 netdata: A Collection of Network Data