American Sociology
Charles A. Ellwood

Howard Odum

The fourteenth president of the American Sociological Society, Charles A. Ellwood, in 1924, might very well be selected as one of the three of the first presidents who had a thorough education in sociology, although he, too, had minored strongly in economics and had been influenced by Ely. In addition to starting with the dynamic Ross at Cornell, he also worked with W. F. Willcox and J. W. Jenks. But his real training was with Small, Henderson, Thomas, and Vincent at Chicago, from which point on he was a full-fledged sociologist. In his background in general, however, he conformed to the patterns of the early years of twentieth-century sociology. He was born in New York, January 20, 1873, and was graduated from Cornell University in 1896; yet thereafter he became an exponent of the Middle States, first with his studying at Chicago, then in his transitional efforts to get located at Nebraska, then finally at the University of Missouri where he became one of the leading American sociologists for thirty years, before building another department at Duke University for still another fifteen years.

Like Small, Blackmar, Hayes, and Weatherly before him, he also studied in Europe and returned to receive his Ph.D. degree under Small at Chicago in 1899. Like them, he also received considerable momentum from certain economists, particularly Ely and Jenks, but, unlike his predecessors, he received his doctor's degree at the earlier age of twenty-six, and was the first of the presidents who came all the way up through university training in sociology. His experience was similar to that of 

( 129) others of his contemporaries in sociology, as well as in economics and political science, in that it was difficult to find a position in sociology in any university. He thus went directly as secretary of a charity organization society at Lincoln, Nebraska, where he could also lecture in sociology at the University of Nebraska, all for perhaps less than a thousand dollars a year. Then there was an offer of a professorship of sociology at the University of Missouri at $1500 which he accepted with his characteristic eagerness and to which he devoted himself powerfully for three decades.

Ellwood was like his earlier contemporaries in that he devoted himself to much work, many contact and varied teaching, having taught in perhaps a baker's dozen institutions during the summer or on leave of absence from Missouri or Duke. Among others, he was visiting professor, largely in summers, at Columbia, Chicago, Colorado, Southern California, Utah, Wisconsin, Harvard, Northwestern. In addition to his prominence in the American Sociological Society, he, like Hayes and Weatherly and Howard, was president of the State Conference of Charities and Corrections as was his colleague Howard Jenson after him. He traveled and studied in Czechoslovakia, France, Italy, Austria, Germany, England, and in other places beyond his own nation. Among the many other activities and honors, the following may be listed: Chairman of the Section on Social Psychology, International Congress of Arts and Sciences, St. Louis, 1904; Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Corresponding member, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sociologie; Honorary member, Masaryk Sociological Society of Czechoslovakia; Honorary member, Société de Sociologie de Genève; National President, Pi Gamma Mu, 1931—37; President, International Congress of Sociology, Brussels, 1935; President, International Institute of Sociology, 1935—36; member of National Education Association and director of the Department of Social Studies, 1922—24. In connection with publications, Ellwood was advisory editor of The American journal of Sociology and an associate editor of the journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. He served on the editorial staffs of the journal of Educational Sociology, Sociology and Social Research (formerly journal of Applied Sociology), Social Science, and World Affairs Interpreter. He received the LL.D. degree from Bethany College in 1922.

His main books included Public Relief and Private Charity in England, 1903; Sociology and Modern Social Problems, 1910; Sociology in

( 130) Its Psychological Aspects, 1913; The Social Problem, 1915; Introduction to Social Psychology, 1917; The Reconstruction of Religion, 1922; Christianity and Social Science, 1923; The Psychology of Human Society, 1925; Cultural Evolution, 1927; Man's Social Destiny, 1929; Methods in Sociology, 1933; A History of Social Philosophy, 1938. In addition to these, Ellwood collaborated in a dozen other books, wrote approximately a hundred and fifty articles, and contributed nearly two score articles to encyclopedias and brochures. The aggregate sale of his books, he estimated, ran into more than a million copies, including foreign translations of several.

Ellwood's presidential address was devoted to "Intolerance" and was published in the Papers and Proceedings of the Nineteenth Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Society, Volume IX, 1925. His address was an attempt to give sociological interpretation to certain trends that followed in the wake of World War I. It was, therefore, an American sociologist's reaction and was set in the national framework and would appear peculiarly appropriate in the light of much discussion of the same subject after World War II. Ellwood was concerned that intolerance seemed to be growing in every form of American life and he concluded that intolerance was a handicap to social progress. Intolerance breeds separation, misunderstanding, and hostility between groups, which may lead to civic disorder and revolution. Repression that suppresses inter-communication also breeds revolution. Intercommunication is the organ of adjustment for conscious social change. His remedy was to convert the people to a scientific attitude of mind.

Howard Jensen, long-time colleague and successor of Ellwood at Duke, considers Barnes's estimate of Ellwood as authentic in that it had Ellwood's general approval. Barnes says on pages 855–56 of his Introduction to the History of Sociology, "one may say that his deep and abiding interest in social reform, the meliorative undercurrent in all his social philosophy, and his belief in the possibility of rational social progress through education in the social sciences were derived from his reading of Lester F. Ward and Auguste Comte and from the teachings of his mentor, Albion W. Small. His interest in, and command of, functional psychology and his application of it to sociology came mainly from his studies under Dewey and Angell. His later shift to an anthropocultural approach to social problems was due mainly to the influence of L. T.

(131)  in Hobhouse and R. R. Marett. In the reconstruction of his psychological sociology in the twenties, Ellwood was influenced not only by Marett and Hobhouse, but especially by C. H. Cooley. He was particularly impressed by Cooley's synthesis and restatement of his psychological sociology in his Social Process."

Barnes sees, on pages 864–65, "in the development of Ellwood's sociological outlook . . . what has been a characteristic trend in contemporary sociology, namely, a recognition of the fact that psychological sociology is a branch of cultural sociology — that psychic forces are more of a cultural, than a biological, product. Ellwood's attitude toward culture has been evolutionary. In approaching cultural evolution his thought is in harmony with that of Comte, Ward, and Hobhouse, namely, that the course of cultural evolution can be brought under the control of the human mind and can be consciously directed in harmony with the teachings of social science.

"Ellwood has succeeded Ward as the main protagonist in his generation of the idea that sociology should be a normative and ameliorative social philosophy, justified mainly by its aid in improving society and the well-being of mankind. He has fought valiantly against a sterile `objectivism' in social science."


No notes