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Statistical Quality Control in the World War II Years
  • Open Access

Statistical Quality Control in the World War II Years

Quality Progress
December 1991
Volume 24 Issue 12
pp. 31-36
Grant, Eugene L., Lang, Theodore E.
Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA


Stanford University's statistical methods courses for West Coast war industries in the 1940s led to a national series of courses that strongly influenced the development of statistical quality control (SQC). The history of SQC training is discussed in this interview with Eugene L. Grant, who played an instrumental role in developing the Stanford courses. Holbrook Working and W. Edwards Deming also were influential in establishing these 10-day courses, which began in July, 1942. They were so successful that the U. S. Office of Production Research and the Engineering, Science, and Management War Training program in the U. S. Office of Education assigned Working to develop SQC courses for national dissemination. These eight-day courses were held during the mid-1940s in many localities across the country. At some of the sites, the trainees formed seminar groups that evolved into local quality control societies that, in turn, were consolidated into the American Society for Quality Control. However, the enthusiasm generated by the courses did not impress top management of the American automobile industry. This contrasts with the acceptance of these methods by the management of postwar Japanese industries.