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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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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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Gouldner, Alvin Ward (29 July 1920–15 December 1980), sociologist and educator, was born in Harlem, New York City, son of Louis Gouldner, a salesman, and Estelle Fetbrandt, a part-time department store clerk. Gouldner was, as he put it, “educated in the streets and schools of New York,” which included DeWitt Clinton High School, Bernard Baruch College (now City College of New York), from which he received a B.A. in 1941, and Columbia University (M.A., 1945; Ph.D., 1953). In the latter two institutions, he joined a contingent of extraordinary students who would become national leaders in sociology and related fields during the three decades following World War II. In 1955 he married Helen Patricia Beem, who herself became a sociologist and academic administrator; they had one son. This marriage ended in divorce in 1965, and the following year he married Janet Lee Walker, their joint family eventually including their two sons and Janet’s daughter by a previous marriage....

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Higman, Howard (25 April 1915–02 November 1995), educator, was born William Howard Hunter Higman in Boulder, Colorado, the son of Joseph Henry Higman, a building contractor, and Clara Jones Higman. After attending local public schools, he entered the University of Colorado and received his B.A. in art in 1937. Having become interested in sociology, he obtained his masters degree in that discipline from Colorado in 1942. The previous year (1941), he had married Marion Hackstaff; they were to have three daughters....

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Charles S. Johnson Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1948. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-42518).

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Johnson, Charles Spurgeon (24 July 1893–27 October 1956), sociologist and educator, was born in Bristol, Virginia, the son of Reverend Charles Henry Johnson, a minister in the black Baptist church, and Winifred Branch. Bristol, a small city in the state’s far southwest corner, had the usual pattern of racial segregation, and it is where Charles received his primary education. He was then sent to Richmond to a private Baptist academy linked to Virginia Union University, a leading black institution, where he completed his undergraduate degree with honors in 1916. Working part time in the Richmond ghetto, he was shocked by the racial discrimination and economic deprivation marking southern Negro life. That led him to decide on graduate work in sociology, to concentrate on race relations, and to focus in particular on conditions in the urban-industrial North in the setting of the Great Migration, the northward movement of thousands of southern blacks....

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Reid, Ira De Augustine (02 July 1901–15 August 1968), African-American sociologist and educator, was born in Clifton Forge, Virginia, the son of Daniel Augustine Reid, a Baptist minister, and Willie Robertha James. He was raised in comfortable surroundings and was educated in integrated public schools in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Germantown, a Philadelphia suburb. Reid’s academic promise was as apparent as his family connections were useful. Recruited by President John Hope of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1918 Reid completed the college preparatory course at Morehouse Academy and in 1922 received his B.A. from Morehouse College....

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Taft, Jessie (24 June 1882–07 June 1960), sociologist, social worker, and educator, was born Julia Taft in Dubuque, Iowa, the daughter of Charles Chester Taft and Amanda May Farwell. Her parents came from Vermont but moved to rural Iowa, where her father became a prosperous merchant. Her mother was deaf, and this disability plus personality differences created a barrier between them. Jessie enjoyed school and music, graduating from West Des Moines High School, and independently chose to become a Unitarian....

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Thomas, Dorothy Swaine (24 October 1899–01 May 1977), sociologist and educator, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the daughter of John Knight Thomas, a salesman, and Sarah Elizabeth Swaine. Her father left the family when Dorothy was twelve, and her mother began work as a paid companion. Thomas then lived with an uncle she did not particularly like and took refuge in voracious reading. She enjoyed and excelled in school. As a senior, she won a citywide essay contest and a scholarship to a local college. After she unwittingly broke a school rule, however, the high school authorities decided that she could not graduate or receive her award. Seeking other funds for college, she applied for and was awarded a scholarship to Barnard College, where her intellectual career flourished....

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Wirth, Louis (28 August 1897–03 May 1952), sociologist and university professor, was born in Gemünden, Germany, the son of Joseph Wirth, a cattle merchant and small-scale farmer, and Rosalie Lorig. As one of only some twenty Jewish families in the village, Wirth’s parents had to depend on either a Protestant or a Catholic elementary school for their children’s academic training. Louis and his siblings were sent to the Volksschule operated by Protestant evangelicals. He received religious training, however, in regular sessions with the village rabbi in the basement of the synagogue and through visits by an itinerant teacher of Hebrew. During a brief visit to Germünden in 1911, Isaac Lorig (one of four Lorig brothers, all of whom had emigrated to the United States) offered to take Louis and his older sister, Flora, back to America with him to receive the education few village children could receive at home....

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Woods, Robert Archey (09 December 1865–18 February 1925), social reformer, educator, and writer, was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Robert Woods, a businessman and founder of the United Presbyterian Church in East Liberty, Pennsylvania, a section of Pittsburgh, and Mary Ann Hall. At age sixteen he entered Amherst College, where he met ...