A brief note on a strange aspect of the Proceedings of the Congress of Arts and Sciences, St. Louis in 1904

Robert Throop & Lloyd Gordon Ward

The first American meeting and the first International meeting with a section on Social Psychology took place at the International Congress of Arts and Sciences in St. Louis in September of 1904.  The session was chaired by Charles Ellwood — the University of Chicago graduate who published Prolegomena to Social Psychology, the first English language with "social psychology" in its title (Ellwood 1900). His introductory remarks (Ellwood 1906) are something of a victory speech, celebrating the ascription of "social psychology" into Sociology. As our introductory note states, we suspect that the decision may have been rigged. The evidence is not very good— it leaps to conclusions on scant evidence. However ...

The congress was divided into Divisions and Departments. Each department was subdivided into Sections: For example, Department XIV Anthropology, was divided into Section A: Somatology, Section B: Archeology, and Section C: Ethnology. Psychology (Department XV) was divided into Section A: General Psychology, Section B: Experimental Psychology, Section C: Comparative and Genetic Psychology, Section D: Abnormal Psychology. Department XVI Sociology, was divided into Section A: Social Structure and Section B: Social Psychology. 

How not to achieve Unity.

Division D: Mental Science included only Psychology and Sociology. The honor of the Divisional Address went to G. Stanley Hall — "The Unity of Mental Science"  Clearly, his heart wasn't in the project. The word "sociology" occurs twice: the first time with reference to Baldwin, the second to excuse himself from any further mention because "because I am too ignorant to speak of it" (Hall 1906: 578 for both mentions). Hall managed to leave out "social psychology" entirely. Apparently, both Sociology and Social Psychology were beneath his notice.

The rivalry implicit in Hall's omission was reflected elsewhere in the meetings. Ellwood's opening remarks were almost belligerent: "I wish to call attention to the fact that this section on social psychology is placed under sociology, and not under psychology. This means of course that the officers of this Congress thought that in any working classification of the sciences social psychology must be considered as a section of sociology rather than as a section of psychology" (Ellwood 1906: 859). On the other hand, the chairman of the Department of Sociology, Franklin Blackmar, took exception to placing sociology in the Mental Science Division: "To classify sociology as a mental science and to divorce it from concrete social studies, as in the present classification, is to narrow its scope, dwarf its usefulness, and imply that there is no place for a science of society called sociology" (Blackmar 1906: 786).

The Proceedings' editors included bibliographies for each Department. Anthropology's was relatively short and had no divisions. Sociology's was broken into three parts, a general bibliography prepared by Blackmar, one on "Social Culture" prepared by Ferdinand Tönnies, and one on "Social Psychology" prepared by Edward A. Ross. Perhaps to make up for Hall's omission, perhaps to reclaim the field for Psychology, Munsterberg included a list for "Social Psychology" prepared by R. D. Williams.  

If a field establishes itself through it bibliography, then the Williams and the Ross bibliographies are going to be of little use to either camp.  First, there was a small core of agreement: Baldwin (1902), Le Bon (1903) Tarde (1898, 1903), and Tõnnies. Baldwin was definitely a psychologist; Tõnnies a sociologist. Tarde and Le Bon are more difficult to categorize—they are either social psychologists or psychological sociologists, choose your own characterization.

Unique recommendations made up larger parts of each writer's suggested reading, however both writers salted their lists with writers from Psychology and Sociology: Ross references Bauer, William cites Comte, . Giddings and Small appear on Williams list, Ross references himself.  It's Durkheim. Stein and De Greef for Williams, Schaeffle and Simmel for Ross.  Bagehot and Veblen stand out on Ross's list, a political scientist and a political economist. Barth's philosophy of history and Hirsch's Genius and Degeneration seem like idiosyncratic choices for Williams. Ross's taste for "imitation" as an explanatory concept pads his list with Sighele.  

A Comparison of Bibliographies for Social Psychology, 1906: Sociology versus Psychology

Source Title
Bagehot Physics and Politics (1873) x
Baldwin Social and Ethical Interpretations 3d edition, Macmillan Co. (1902) x x
Barth Die Philosophie der Gerschichte als Sociologie, I, Reisland (1897) x
Bauer Les Classes sociales, Paris (1902) x
Comte Système de politique positive (1852) x
Cooley Human Nature and Social Order (1902) x
Durkheim De la division du travail, Alcan (1902) x
Le Suicide, Bibiotheque de Phil. Contemp. (1897) x
De Greef Le transformisme Social, Paris (1901) x
Giddings The Principles of Sociology, Macmillan, (1896) x
Groos The Play of Man (English Translation). Appleton, 1901 x
Guyau L'Art au point de vue sociologique, Paris, 1899. x
Hearn Japan: An Interpolation (1905) x
Hirsch Genius and Degeneration, Appleton x
Le Bon The Crowd, Walter Scott (1903) x x
Ross Social Control (1901) x
The Foundations of Sociology (1905) x
Rousseau The Social Contract, Swan, Sonnenschein, (1895) x
Schaeffle, Soziale Differenzierung, x
Sidis The Psychology of Suggestion (1905) x
Sighele La Foulle Criminelle (1893) x
La psychologie des sectes (1897) x
Simmel Ueber sociale Differenzierung x
Small General Sociology, Univ of Chicago (1905) x
Stein Die Soziale Frage, Enke (1903) x
Tarde Laws of Imitation, Holt (1903) x x
La Logique sociale (1895) x
Social Laws, Macmillan (1898) x x
L'Opposition universelle (1897) x
Etudes de psychologie sociale (1901) x
L'Opinion et la foule (1901) x
Toennies Gesellschaft und Gemeinschaft. x x
Veblen The Theory of the Leisure Class (1889) x

Our point is simply this.  The war over Social Psychology started early. Yet even in its first years, little separated the two camps except what Small had once characterized as the "cans of preserves" perspective of institutional academia (Small 1909).


Blackmar, Frank W. .

Ellwood, Charles A.

Hall, Granville Stanley

Small, Albion W.

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