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Karl A. Fox papers

 Collection — Box: 156
Identifier: RS 13/9/16

Scope and Content

The collection contains correspondence, research materials, publications, and biographical information. The majority of the materials document Fox’s role as Head of the Department of Economics at Iowa State University, his research and publication activities, and his involvement in professional organizations.


  • 1908-1993, undated

Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use/Re-use Restrictions

Contact Special Collections and University Archives.


Karl August Fox was born on July 14, 1917, in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Feramorz Young Fox and Anna T. Wilcken. After he graduated from high school in 1933, Fox turned down a tuition scholarship at the California Institute of Technology. Because of family financial constraints due to the Great Depression, the additional cost of enrollment and room and board was unaffordable. Instead he enrolled at the University of Utah, completing both his B.A. in English (1937) and his M.A. in Sociology (1938) there. He then went to the University of California at Berkeley to study for the Ph.D. in economics. When the United States entered World War II, Fox had just passed his preliminary examinations. He took an assignment with the War Food Administration (WFA), and did not complete his Ph.D. until 1954.

He served with the WFA from 1942 to 1944 and then went to the U.S.D.A. Bureau of Economics (BAE) in Washington, D.C., from 1944 to 1954. From 1951 to 1954, he was Head of the BAE’s Division of Statistical and Historical Research. While with the Bureau, he received the U.S. Department of Agriculture Award for Superior Service (1948). He was senior staff economist with the President’s Council of Economic Advisors from 1954 to 1955.

In 1955, Fox accepted the position of Head of the Department of Economics and Sociology at Iowa State College (University) in 1955. After Sociology became a separate department in 1966, he continued as Head of Economics until 1972. In 1968 he was named a Distinguished Professor. He stepped down as Department Head in 1972, desiring the freedom to spend more time in economic and social science research.

Fox was an outstanding research economist. His dissertation The Demand for Farm Products: An Appraisal of the Applicability of Simple Equation Methods to Statistical Demand Analysis for Agricultural Commodities won the American Agricultural Economics Association (AAEA) award for the outstanding doctoral dissertation of 1953. He also received AAEA awards for outstanding published research in 1952, 1954, and 1957. His first book, Economic Analysis for Public Policy, published by ISU Press in 1958 was honored by the AAEA in 1977 as a publication of enduring quality. He was also the author of two textbooks, Intermediate Economic Statistics (Wiley, 1968) and Introduction to Economic Statistics (Wiley, 1970). Both were widely used and translated into multiple languages.

Fox’s economic research and publications made an international impact in the social and behavioral sciences. He conducted innovative research in urban and regional economics, demand analysis, functional economic areas, theory of economic policy, resource allocation in nonmarket institutions, and social systems accounting. His economic modeling research has significantly shaped the broader realm of social science in areas such as urban-regional interdependence and relations between agriculture and the non-farm economy. Fox’s interdisciplinary focus over the years made him a scholar of importance for sociologists, urban planners, geographers, and social psychologists, as well as economists.


126.42 Linear Feet (301 document boxes)

Language of Materials



The collection is organized into six series:

Series 1, Biographical Information, (1917-1982) (chronological)

Series 2, Departmental Records, (1913-1993, undated) (chronological)

Series 3, Professional Papers (1908-1991, undated) (chronological)

Series 4, Professional Affiliations Files, (1940-1989, undated) (alphabetical)

Series 5, Government Contact Files, (1948-1976, undated) (alphabetical)

Series 6, Correspondence, (1951-1993, undated) (chronological)

Physical Location

This collection is stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives at least 3 working days in advance.

Processing Information

Released on 2020-12-22.

RS 13/9/16. Karl A. Fox papers, 1908-1993, undated
June 22, 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives Repository

403 Parks Library
701 Morrill Road
Iowa State University
Ames Iowa 50011-2102 United States
(515) 294-6672