The Riots of 1964 — Chapter 5

Research Director’s Report
Manning Van Nostrand, Director of Research

Design of the Research Instruments

The Hampton Beach Project was fortunate in securing the services of three highly competent consultants. Each of the consultants brought to the Project a wealth of experience. Each was from the University Community and had contributed significantly to his respective discipline. Dr. William C. Kvaraceus, noted authority in the field of adolescent behavior, is attached to Tufts University’s Lincoln Filene Center for Citizenship and Public Affairs where he is Professor of Education and Director of Youth Studies. Dr. Stuart Palmer, Chairman of the Department of Sociology at the University of New Hampshire, came to the Project out of a background in the field of research in criminology. Dr. Helen Kenney at the time of the Project’s beginning was a member of the Department of Cognitive Studies of Harvard University.

One of the most fortunate aspects of the consultants’ relation to the Project was their relation to each other. Each of them respected the other; each of them apparently shared similar philosophical approaches to their respective disciplines. It is conceivable that a Project might have consultants that would not have this happy agreement between them. We were fortunate in that our consultants had broad areas of agreement.

It would be difficult to say which consultant contributed to any specific research instrument. All of them collaborated on each of the instruments. It would be fair to say, however, that on the original interview schedule Drs. Palmer and Kenney with the assistance of the Project Research coordinator drew out the basic questions. At the beginning we all agreed on the kinds of information which should be gathered. Over the course of the Project this original quest was greatly modified to bring in data related to the ‘physical’ characteristics of the youth population and their general attitudes toward the Beach Project and the Beach Community.

One way of understanding in greater detail the work of the consultants on the Project is to include here a “memorandum of Understanding” written about the last week in May. This Memorandum was the result of a meeting between Drs. Israel Gerver and William Kvaraceus and Mr. Seymour Rosenthal and the Project Research Coordinator. The Memorandum is as follows:

I. Dr. William Kvaraceus is general Project consultant coordinating research.

  1. Overseeing of all research development.
  2. Coordination of all efforts to code and tabulate data.
  3. Work with other consultants and project coordinators in the analysis of research data.
  4. Spend enough time in the field to assure research methods validity.
  5. Acclimate self to Beach milieu.

II. The Project coordinator shall be able to call upon any consultant help he deems important for Project effectiveness. It is understood that resources of HEW will be utilized on the Project whenever possible. It is expected that the Office of Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Development will communicate with the Project consultant directly on matters relating to the Project.

III. Doctors Kenney and Palmer will be in charge of the following areas under the guidance of Dr. Kvaraceus.

  1. Construction and validity of data-gathering instruments.
  2. Construction of coding and tabulating guides.
  3. The training of researchers.

This memorandum was subsequently modified in practice to make it clear that each of the consultants was assured of his autonomy.

In a following section of this report each research instrument will be described fully. What should be seen at this point are the issues which confronted us at the beginning of test construction. In the first place, to our knowledge, no one had ever undertaken a study quite like this one. It was the opinion of those working on research that here was a marvelous opportunity to find out some essential information regarding the dynamics of a riot as a social phenomenon and of the individual participants. Our original interview instrument was designed with this in mind. It explored such physical characteristics as age, sex, residence; it went into such social facts as aspiration level, father’s occupation; this schedule explored general attitudes toward self, toward country, police, home, etc. One of the significant aspects of the interview schedule was its relation to the 1964 riot itself. The interview sought to establish what the feelings of the participant were before and during the riot, attitudes about people involved in the riot and so forth.

It was upon this basic interview schedule that the schedule for the summer of 1965 population was drawn. Later we shall go into the differences between these two schedules. As we shall see, this interview schedule was the basic research instrument. This is what provided us with the most meaningful kind of data. The basic decision-making revolving around the interview schedule was a matter of how deeply we should probe into attitudes and values of the youth.

There was another continuum of decision-making; it had to do with the kinds of data we should be seeking. We hoped we were getting at significant data in the interview schedule. But, this was confined to the youth population in its scope. We also needed to explore changes in attitudes in the business community. This test could not be nearly as comprehensive as the interview schedule for youth. A relatively brief questionnaire was drawn up, built principally around the nexus of authoritarian-egalitarian mind set. These two instruments comprised one end of the research continuum. The other end of the continuum had to do with large scale administrations of questionnaires and observational techniques that would seek to quantify more general behavioral modes. For this a questionnaire was drawn up of some thirty items pertinent to specific acts observable on the beach. This was to be distributed to nine hundred youths and nine hundred adults divided into three waves over the course of the summer. It was also hoped that these tests, which finally became known as “The Irritability-Deviancy Scale” could be given to state and local police. This, however, never happened. Along with this questionnaire there was designed a Beach Observation Scale that would take samples of the various kinds of observable behavior on the Beach.

It was hoped that a kind of Beach Incident Scale could be employed. We hoped that volunteer people from Hampton might be on the Beach when incidents of arrest or any other disturbance took place. These volunteers would record their impressions, giving as much factual data as they could observe. If enough of these were done, we might have some reasonable basis of knowing more of the dynamics of disturbances which occur on the Beach. However, when the first timid volunteers went to the Beach, they did not seem to come at the times when any disturbances happened. They used this as a reason for not going back. The Beach Incident Scale fell into rather rapid disuse.

However, this Beach Incident Scale under different circumstances might serve to be a useful tool. The following notes regarding Observation of Hampton Beach should be used in conjunction with the Beach Incident Scale found in the Appendix.

Originally, our intent was to give quite a number of interviews to young people over the summer who were arrested. While we did get some interviews, our data is not nearly as complete at this point as we would have liked. Physical arrangements, official policy on the part of the State Police, and a general reluctance on the part of the police locally impeded progress here.