Microforms; Mixed Materials

Edward A. Ross papers, 1859-1969

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Papers of Edward Alsworth Ross, a supporter of liberal causes and an influential sociologist at the University of Wisconsin. Correspondence with fellow sociologists, representatives of sociological...

Papers of Edward Alsworth Ross, a supporter of liberal causes and an influential sociologist at the University of Wisconsin. Correspondence with fellow sociologists, representatives of sociological organizations, University of Wisconsin colleagues, and publishers document the major events and interests of his long career. From 1893 to 1900 the letters particularly indicate his views on bimetallism and capitalism, and many discuss the rift with Mrs. Leland Stanford which led to his departure from the faculty of Stanford University and subsequent academic freedom issues. Throughout the correspondence many letters reflect his interest in problems of population pressure, eugenics, and immigration restriction. After he became editor of D. Appleton-Century Company's social science series in 1919, he became active in promoting the teaching of social science in the schools and in urging the acceptance of sociology as a credit course in high schools.

During the 1930s his correspondence shows his interest in the New Deal, and his advocacy of federal health insurance and of the income tax in opposition to the sales tax. Ross made several trips to study social conditions abroad: to Europe in 1898-99, to China in 1910, to South America in 1913-1914, to Russia under the auspices of the American Institute of Social Service in 1917-1918, to Portuguese Africa in 1924, and to Europe and Australia in the 1930s. Many allusions to these trips and to the resultant writings and reports occur in the correspondence. After Ross retired from active teaching in 1937, he lectured frequently on behalf of temperance education, worked for the American Committee for the Defense of Leon Trotsky, and aided the American Civil Liberties Union during the early years of World War II in support of conscientious objectors and of other efforts to offset wartime hysteria. Many letters concern the two dozen books Ross wrote between 1900 and 1940 and the dozens of articles and lectures he composed.

Several volumes of field notes and class lectures, copies of articles and speeches, and drafts and revisions of Ross's best-known book, Principles of Sociology, are also preserved in the collection. Travel diaries include four small volumes containing observations made by Ross when he was in Russia in 1917-1918; in one of these he recorded an interview with Leon Trotsky (December 9, 1917). Scrapbooks of clipped newspaper and periodical materials, 1892-1909, and a box of unmounted newspaper articles, primarily of later dates, reveal the extent to which Ross became a national and sometimes a controversial figure in the development of sociological thought.

Photographs are of Ross and of family members, including his parents, wife, and son, circa 1860 to 1930. Also included are images of Ross in a group portrait of faculty members at Indiana University and in a Cornell University souvenir yearbook, 1893. Additional photographs document immigrants from Europe, 1913, South American Indian life, 1913-1914, and underprivileged living conditions in Milwaukee, 1909.

The processed portion is summarized above and is described in the finding aid. Additional accessions are described below.

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Microforms; Mixed Materials
Physical Details
  • 15.0 cubic feet (38 archives boxes)
  • 40 reels of microfilm (35 mm)
  • 129 photographs
  • 1 drawing, and
  • 1 book; plus
  • additions of 0.4 cubic feet
ocn173699720, on1129599203
Finding Aids
  • Printed guide to the published microfilm edition of these papers; folder also in the finding aid file

  • This collection is also available on microfilm.
  • Presented by Frank A. and Lester Ward Ross, July 14, 1954; by Professor William H. Sewell, April 27, 1959; and by Gilbert Ross, September 16, 1971.


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