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Alford, Leon Pratt (03 January 1877–02 January 1942), engineer and publicist, was born in Simsbury, Connecticut, the son of Emerson Alford, a farmer and manufacturer, and Sarah Merriam Pratt. Alford studied at Plainville (Conn.) High School and then the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts, from which he received a bachelor’s degree in engineering in 1896 and, later, a master’s degree (1905). He took a position in 1896 as assistant shop foreman with the McKay Metallic Fastening Association and remained with the company through a series of mergers that eventually made it a part of the United Shoe Machinery Company. In 1900 he married Grace Agnes Hutchins. The couple had one child, a son. In 1902 he helped design United Shoe’s new plant in Beverly, Massachusetts, celebrated at the time as the world’s largest reinforced-concrete machine shop, and in 1906, after serving as production superintendent, he became head of the company’s mechanical engineering department....

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Arbuthnot, May Hill (27 August 1884–02 October 1969), educator and children's literature specialist, educator and children’s literature specialist, was born in Mason City, Iowa, the daughter of Frank Hill and Mary Elizabeth Seville. May’s childhood was reminiscent of the quality of family life she advocated throughout her professional life—hers was a family in which it was “as unnatural not to read as not to eat.” Arbuthnot later said that her mother, whose “joy in books and people never failed,” guided May and her brother to “the Alcott books and swung us into Dickens and the Waverley novels at an early age.” Her father read aloud classics such as ...

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Emily Green Balch Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-114732).

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Balch, Emily Greene (08 January 1867–09 January 1961), peace activist, sociologist, and Nobel Peace Prize winner, was born in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, the daughter of Francis Vergnies Balch, a lawyer, and Ellen Maria Noyes. She was in the first graduating class at Bryn Mawr College, earning her degree in 1889. After studying privately for a year with sociologist ...

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Baltzell, E. Digby (14 November 1915–17 August 1996), sociologist and educator, was born Edward Digby Baltzell on Rittenhouse Street in Philadelphia, the son of Edward Digby Baltzell and Caroline Adelaide Duhring Baltzell. Baltzell's Protestant patrician family, though it had become in his words “impecuniously genteel,” was nonetheless able to send him to Chestnut Hill Academy, a private day school, and later to St. Paul's, a select boarding school in New Hampshire. During Baltzell's senior year, his father, an alcoholic, lost his job because of drinking, and the subsequent strain on family finances kept him from going away to college. Instead, he attended the University of Pennsylvania, starting out in the School of Architecture, but financial difficulties forced him to drop out of school after his freshman year. Later, with a loan from a friend, Baltzell resumed his studies at Penn. But he forsook his dream of becoming an architect and enrolled in the Wharton School, where be majored in insurance. A series of odd jobs, including parking lot attendant and chauffeur, enabled him to meet his expenses. He graduated in 1939 and went to work with an insurance company as an underwriter and then at a pharmaceutical company, Smith, Kline, and French Laboratories, where he helped to conduct attitude surveys....

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Barnard, Chester Irving (07 November 1886–07 June 1961), telephone executive, foundation president, and management theorist, was born in Malden, Massachusetts, the son of Charles H. Barnard, a machinist, and Mary E. Putnam. His mother died when Chester was five. Apprenticed as a piano tuner, he worked his way through preparatory school at Mount Hermon Academy in Northfield, Massachusetts, and won a scholarship to Harvard, where he supplemented his income by tuning pianos and running a small dance band. He studied economics and languages but failed to receive a degree because he lacked a laboratory science course, which he felt he could not complete and yet “do all the work I had to do to eat.” In 1909 he was employed by American Telephone and Telegraph Corporation (AT&T) in the statistical department, studying the rate-setting practices of European telephone companies. He married Grace Frances Noera in 1911. They had one child....

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Barnes, Harry Elmer (15 June 1889–25 August 1968), historian and sociologist, was born on a farm near Auburn, New York, the son of William Henry Barnes, Jr., a farmer, teacher, and later a prison guard, and Lulu C. Short. After graduating from high school in 1906, Barnes spent several years as a construction laborer and principal of a two-room village school in Montezuma, a small canal town in central New York. From 1909 to 1913 he attended Syracuse University, from which he graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in history. From 1913 to 1915 Barnes was instructor in sociology and economics at Syracuse, which awarded him an M.A. for work on the development of social philosophy from Plato to Comte. From 1915 to 1917 he was a graduate student at Columbia University, during which time he held a fellowship that allowed him to research at Harrow University from fall 1916 through early spring 1917, and in the subsequent academic year he taught at Columbia and Barnard. In 1918 he received a Ph.D. in sociology from Columbia University; his dissertation focused on the history of the New Jersey prison system. In 1916 he married Grace Stone; they had one child. After divorcing Stone eleven years later, he married Jean Hutchison Newman in 1935....

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Becker, Howard Paul (09 December 1899–08 June 1960), sociologist, was born in New York City, the son of Paul John Becker, a laborer, and Letitia Dickson. During Howard’s infancy Paul Becker left home for several years traveling throughout North America as a prospector. At this time Howard lived with his mother in a small village in Ontario, Canada. In 1910 Howard and his mother joined the venturesome father in Nevada. In 1917 they moved to South Bend, Indiana, where father and son worked at the Dort Motor Company. Howard worked in various automobile factories and gave evidence of a promising career as an industrial engineer that stemmed in part from technical training he picked up through a correspondence course....

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Charles E. Bedaux. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-107447).

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Bedaux, Charles Eugene (10 October 1886–18 February 1944), scientific manager, entrepreneur, and fascist collaborator, was born in Charenton-le-Pont, France, a suburb of Paris, the son of Charles Emile Bedaux, a railroad engineer, and Marie Eulalie, a dressmaker. Bedaux spent his first twenty years on the streets of Paris, doing odd jobs and usually avoiding school. He attended the Lycée Louis LeGrand in Paris but did not receive a regular degree. In 1906 he left Paris to seek his fortune across the Atlantic. In the United States Bedaux worked as a dishwasher, an insurance salesman, and a sandhog with the crews building the Hudson River tunnels. He also had a stint at the New Jersey Worsted Mills in Hoboken. He became a naturalized citizen in 1908....

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Bell, Daniel (10 May 1919–25 Jan. 2011), sociologist and public intellectual, was born Daniel Bolotsky in New York City, son of Benjamin Bolotsky and Anna Kaplan, immigrant Jewish garment workers living on the Lower East Side. His father died when Daniel was an infant; around ...

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Harry Benjamin. Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine (B02717).

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Benjamin, Harry (12 January 1885–24 August 1986), physician, endocrinologist, and sex researcher, was born in Berlin, Germany, the son of Julius Benjamin, a banker, and Bertha Hoffman. He became interested in human sexuality at the age of twenty, when he read August Forel’s ...

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Bentley, Arthur Fisher (16 October 1870–21 May 1957), sociologist, political scientist, and philosopher, was born in Freeport, Illinois, the son of Angeline Alice Fisher and Charles Frederick Bentley, a banker. The family moved to Omaha and then to Grand Island, Nebraska. Bentley briefly attended both York College, Nebraska, and the University of Denver, Colorado, before returning to Grand Island to work in his father’s bank. In 1890 Bentley entered Johns Hopkins University to study economics and sociology. He returned again to Grand Island and, with his father, collected economic and agricultural data on the community of Harrison, Nebraska. Bentley received an A.B. in 1892. His undergraduate thesis, “The Condition of the Western Farmer as Illustrated by the Economic History of a Nebraska Township,” was published the next year in the ...

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Bernard, Jessie Shirley (8 Jun. 1903–6 Oct. 1996), sociologist and feminist scholar, was born Jessie Sarah (later changed to Shirley) Ravitch in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She was the third of four children born to Bessie Kanter and David Solomon Ravitch who had emigrated separately to the United States from Transylvania (later Romania) in the 1880s. The Ravitchs, the only Jewish family living in their suburban, middle-class neighborhood, were treated as interlopers. This experience proved formative for Jessie and influenced her early scholarship....

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Bernard, Luther Lee (29 October 1881–23 January 1951), sociologist, was born in Russell County, Kentucky, the son of Hiram H. Bernard and Julia Wilson, farmers. Although the senior Bernard showed courage fighting on the Union side in a border state, his petty tyranny contributed to the hardship and emotional turmoil of Luther’s youth, which was spent mostly in West Texas and southwestern Missouri. A single bright spot was provided by two charismatic young teachers who introduced him to Charles Darwin and modern science at the ungraded high school he attended in Gordon, Texas. Otherwise, as his younger sister later commented, his attitude toward his family was “bitter” and “antagonistic.”...

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Blumer, Herbert George (07 March 1900–13 April 1987), sociologist and teacher, was born in St. Louis, Missouri, the son of Richard George Blumer, a cabinetmaker, and Margaret Marshall. He was married twice, first in 1922 to Marguerite Barnett, with whom he had one daughter. After their divorce, he married Marcia Jackson in 1943. They had two daughters. Blumer earned a B.A. (1921) and an M.A. (1922) from the University of Missouri, and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago (1928). He supplemented his income during graduate school and in his first years of teaching by playing professional football with the Chicago Cardinals from 1925 to 1933, competing against football greats ...

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Bogardus, Emory Stephen (21 February 1882–21 August 1973), sociologist and university administrator, was born near Belvidere, Illinois, the son of Henry Brown Bogardus, a farmer of Dutch descent, and Eliza Stevenson. Growing up in a rural household, with no mail delivery or daily paper, Bogardus learned of the outside world through publications such as the ...

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Brooks, John Graham (19 July 1846–08 February 1938), reformer and sociologist, was born in Acworth, New Hampshire, the son of Chapin Kidder Brooks, a merchant, and Pamelia Graham. During his youth he worked at the store owned by his father, who also represented the town of Acworth in the state legislature. After graduating from Kimball Union Academy in 1866, Brooks attended the University of Michigan Law School but soon changed his mind about studying law. He left after a year and taught the next year on Cape Cod. In 1868, after a summer in Quebec perfecting his French, he enrolled in Oberlin College, in Oberlin, Ohio. After graduating in 1872 Brooks returned to New England and enrolled in the Harvard Divinity School, where he graduated with a degree in sacred theology in 1875. He was soon ordained and served as a Unitarian minister in Roxbury, Massachusetts. In addition to his pastoral duties, he involved himself in labor reform and organized classes in history and economics for the workingmen of the neighborhood. His liberal sermons attracted listeners from Cambridge and Beacon Hill. He was soon addressing informal groups on social problems. In 1880 he married the widow of another Unitarian minister, Helen Lawrence Appleton Washburn, who shared his reform impulses; they had three children....

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Burgess, Ernest Watson (16 May 1886–27 December 1966), sociologist, was born in Tilbury, Ontario, Canada, the son of Edmund James Burgess, an Anglican minister and teacher, and Mary Ann Jane Wilson. Having moved to the United States as a young child, Burgess grew up in a conventional middle-class family in small towns in Michigan and Oklahoma. Early in life he appeared destined for an academic career; his first grade teacher nicknamed him “the little professor.” He attended public schools through tenth grade, completed high school at a private academy near his home, and earned a bachelor’s degree from Kingfisher College in Oklahoma in 1908. One of the first sociologists to complete his advanced education in the United States, Burgess received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1913....