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Department of Sociology records

Identifier: 905

Scope and Content

This collection of Department of Sociology records covers the period 1931-1958 and includes routine papers of the internal operations of the department as well as the department's relationship to the College of Science, Literature and the Arts, and to the entire University. In addition, the collection contains correspondence with sociologists from other colleges and universities, materials on sociology faculty members' research projects and their professional service to the state and the community

Several developments stand out in the collection. The gradual separation of the School of Social Work from the Department of Sociology was a significant development during the late 1930's and 1940's, and is indicative of the development of social work as a profession separate from the more academic field of sociology. The most outstanding continuing concern of the Sociology Department as reflected in the papers was the problem of recruiting top faculty people in all areas of sociology, including rural sociology on the St. Paul Campus, and in social work while that curriculum was within the Department of Sociology.

Records relating to the field of rural sociology and to rural sociologist Lowry Nelson are scattered throughout the collection. Professor Nelson achieved a national and international reputation in his field and conducted projects in the United States as well as Italy and Cuba. He served in several positions including United States Representative to the Permanent Agricultural Committee of the International Labor Organization, consultant on Community Development for the International Cooperation Administration, and a member of the Planning Committee, Institute of Cooperative Managers.

The wartime situations of 1941-1945 and 1950-1953 created problems of a less than conventional nature. The difficulties involved with military service of faculty members, the drafting of teaching assistants, maintenance of the department on a low enrollment are all brought out in the departmental correspondence as are a few less serious problems such as the noise of the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps Band practice interfering with classes in Jones Hall. Professor Chapin was very interested in the effects of war upon society, and this interest is brought out in the departmental correspondence, particularly in relation to a study conducted in Red Wing, Minnesota, to determine war effects on a small town. After World War II ended, the department was faced with rapid increases in enrollment, veteran students on special programs, and a very serious faculty housing shortage which forced some professors to live in two-room apartments in University Village.

The collection also contains limited correspondence regarding a study entitled, "The Prediction of Juvenile Delinquency Using the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory", carried out jointly by Professor Monachesi and Starke Hathway of the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry. The project, financed by Graduate School research funds, was conducted in 1947-1948, and a follow-up study was made in 1952.

The Department of Sociology moved twice during the period covered in the collection, first from its quarters in Jones Hall in 1948 to Nicholson Hall, and again in the fall of 1950 to the newly-built social science facilities in Ford Hall. The difficulties involved with hurried post-war construction are revealed in the correspondence, telling of facility and scheduling problems in the new building.


  • 1931, 1938-1958

Language of Materials


Use of Materials

Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only.


Requests for permission to quote the Department of Sociology records should be arranged with head of University of Minnesota Archives.

Historical Note

In 1890 Samuel G. Smith was hired to teach the first course in sociology at the University of Minnesota. The course as listed in the 1892/93 Catalogue of the College of Science, Literature and the Artswas "Principles, Elements and History of Sociology, with discussions of crime, pauperism, prison reform, etc." and was offered in Political Science. It was so popular that an article appeared in the 1893 Ariel, stating that "it is time that this course should be added to our curriculum. The science is growing in importance and is of especial interest to college students, since the men who are to deal wisely with the difficult questions of crime and poverty will be recruited from the ranks of college graduates".

The 1901/02 Bulletin of the College of Science, Literature and the Artslists sociology as separate from politcal science for the first time. Three courses were offered, Elements of sociology, Social pathology and Social theory. In 1903 three additional courses were offered, Anthropology, Social groups and The study of institutions, all taught by Samuel Smith who had been promoted from lecturer to professor of sociology in 1901.

A request made by Samuel Smith to the Board of Regents in 1908 resulted in the creation of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, with Smith serving as chairman until 1914. In 1915 Albert E. Jenks was appointed chairman of the department, serving until 1919 when anthropology and sociology were split and Jenks was appointed chairman of the newly created Department of Anthropology.

Arthur J. Todd served as chairman of the Department of Sociology from 1919-1921 and Frank J. Bruno from 1921-1922. The collection however, spans the chairmanships of F. Stuart Chapin from 1923-1952 and Elio Monachesi from 1952-1970.

Francis Stuart Chapin was born on February 3, 1888 in Brooklyn, New York. He received a B.A in 1909, M.A. in 1910 and a Ph.D. in 1911, all from Columbia University. He taught at Wellesley and Smith Colleges before coming to the University of Minnesota in 1923 as professor of sociology and chairman of the Sociology Department, as well as the Undergraduate Training Course for Social and Civic Work, established in 1917. On June 29, 1935, by action of the Board of Regents, the University established the Graduate Course in Social Work to supersede the Training Course. Professor Chapin was given the title Director of Graduate Course in Social Work which he assumed in addition to that of Chairman of the Sociology Department. Miss Gertrude Vaile was appointed Associate Director of the Graduate Course. On March 14, 1942, the designation Graduate Course in Social Work was changed to School of Social Work with no changes in internal status or administrative relationships with the College of Science, Literature and the Arts or the University. Professor Chapin's title then became Chairman, Department of Sociology and Director, School of Social Work. Miss Vaile served as associate director of the School of Social Work until 1946 when she retired and John C. Kidneigh assumed the post. In December, 1949, Professor Chapin resigned as director and John Kidneigh was appointed director, spearating the dual title. Professor Chapin continued to serve as chairman of the Sociology Department until September, 1951. He retired from the faculty on June 16, 1953. F. Stuart Chapin died on July 7, 1974 in Asheville, North Carolina.

Elio David Monachesi was born in Macerata, Italy on July 19, 1905. He received a B.A. in 1927 and M.A. in 1928, both from the University of Missouri, and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in 1931. He served in the Sociology Department as instructor from 1928-1932, assistant professor from 1934 to 1939, associate professor from 1939-1945 and full professor from 1945-1971. He was chairman of the department from September, 1951 to 1970. Elio Monachesi died on June 28, 1971 in Minneapolis.


3.5 Linear Feet (7)


This collection contains the records of the Department of Sociology at the University of Minnesota and include the chairmanships of F. Stuart Chapin (1923-1952) and Elio Monachesi (1952-1970).

Source of acquisition

The collection was received in several deposits between 1958 and 1966.

Related Material in the University of Minnesota Archives

School of Social Work records

Elio Monachesi papers

John Kidneigh papers

Francis Stuart Chapin papers

Lowry Nelson papers

Partial Subject Inventory

  1. The following subject inventory should be considred as a guide to the highlights of the collection. Topics such as interdepartmental and intrauniversity business, particularly with the College of Science, Literature and the Arts and Graduate School deans; faculty recruiting and correspondence with colleagues in sociology are scattered throughout the collection and are not necessarily limited to the boxes indicated below.
  2. American Association of Schools of Social Work -- Box 7
  3. American Sociological Society-- Box 7
  4. Anderson, William; proposal to studyThe Intergovernmental Relations of the State of Minnesota-- Box 2
  5. Chapin, F. Stuart-- Boxes 1, 2, and 3
  6. Employment, Unemployment and Relief in St. Paul, Study of, 1940-1942-- Box 5
  7. Faculty Housing-- Boxes 2, 3, and 7
  8. Fenlason, Anne-- Box 3
  9. Ford Hall-- Boxes 2 and 5
  10. Freeman, Orville-- Boxes 1, 2, 3, and 4
  11. Hathaway, Starke-- See Monachesi-Hathaway Study
  12. Industrial Relations Center-- Box 5
  13. Institute of Child Welfare-- Box 5
  14. Juvenile Courts-- Box 3
  15. Juvenile Delinquency-- Boxes 3, 4, 5, and 7
  16. Korean War-- Box 3
  17. Midwest Sociological Society-- Box 7
  18. Minnesota Conference on Social Work Education-- Box 7
  19. Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-- See Monachesi-Hathaway Study
  20. Minnesota State Planning Board, Committee on Housing, 1938-1939-- Box 7
  21. Monachesi, Elio-- Boxes 2, 3, and 4
  22. Monachesi-Hathaway Study, The Prediction of Juvenile Delinquency Using the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-- Boxes 3 and 4
  23. Nelson, Lowry-- Boxes 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5
  24. Oren, Anne Winslow-- Box 2
  25. Parsons, Talcott-- Box 2
  26. Red Wing Study of Wartime Impact on Community-- Boxes 1 and 3
  27. Rural Sociology-- Boxes 3, 4, and 5
  28. School of Social Work-- Boxes 1, 3, and 6
  29. Social Science Research Center-- Box 6
  30. William Hodson Memorial Fund and Lectureship-- Box 1
  31. World War II-- Boxes 1, 2, 3, and 5
Department of Sociology records, 1931, 1938-1958
University of Minnesota Archives staff; updated by Karen Klinkenberg
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Collecting Area Details

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