Giddings, Franklin Henry 1855-1931

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GIDDINGS, Franklin Henry 1855-1931

PERSONAL: Born March 23, 1855, in Sherman, CT; died 1931, in Scarsdale, NY; son of Rev. Edward Jonathan and Rebecca Jan (Fuller) Giddings; married Elizabeth Patience Hawes, November 8, 1876; children: Henry Starr, Elizabeth Rebecca, Lorinda Margaret. Education: Union College, A.B., 1888, A.M, 1889.

CAREER: Educator, writer, and sociologist. Teacher, 1875-77; reporter for Springfield Republican, Springfield, MA, and other New England newspapers, 1877-88; Bryn Mawr College, lecturer, 1888, associate, 1889-91, associate professor, 1891, professor of political science, 1892-94; Columbia University, New York, NY, professor of sociology, 1894-1928, professor emeritus-in-residence, 1928-31. New York City Board of Education, member, 1915-17; Union College, member of board of trustees, honorary chancellor, 1926.

MEMBER: American Sociological Society (president, 1910-11), Institut International de Sociologie.

AWARDS, HONORS: Doctor of Philosophy, Union College, 1897.


Railroads and Telegraphs: Who Shall Control Them? Manufacturer and Industrial Gazette (Springfield, MA), 1881.

(With John B. Clark) The Modern Distributive Process, Ginn & Company (Boston, MA), 1888, reprinted in Economics and Social Justice, Arno Press (New York, NY), 1973.

Sociology and Political Economy, American Economic Association (Baltimore, MD), 1888.

Outline of Lectures on Political Economy, Ferris Brothers (Philadelphia, PA), 1891.

Outlines of Lectures of Sociology, W. J. Dorman (Philadelphia, PA), 1891.

The Theory of Sociology, [Philadelphia, PA], 1894.

The Principles of Sociology: An Analysis of thePhenomena of Association and of Social Organization, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1896, reprinted, University of the Pacific, 2001.

The Theory of Socialization, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1897.

The Elements of Sociology: A Text-Book for Colleges and Schools, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1898, reprinted, Johnson Reprint Corp. (New York, NY), 1970.

Democracy and Empire, with Studies of Their Psychological, Economic, and Moral Foundations, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1900, reprinted, Books for Libraries Press (Freeport, NY), 1972.

Inductive Sociology: A Syllabus of Methods, Analyses and Classifications, and Provisionally Formulated Laws, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1901.

(Editor) Readings in Descriptive and Historical Sociology, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1906.

Sociology, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 1908.

The Relation of Social Theory to Public Policy, American Association for International Conciliation (New York, NY), 1912.

Pagan Poems, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1914.

The Changing Attitude toward War as Reflected in theAmerican Press, American Association for International Conciliation (New York, NY), 1914.

The Western Hemisphere in the World of To-Morrow, Fleming H. Revell Company (New York, NY), 1915.

Americanism in War and in Peace, Clark University Press (Worcester, MA), 1917.

The Bases of an Enduring Peace, American Association for International Conciliation (New York, NY), 1917.

The Responsible State: A Reexamination of Fundamental Political Doctrines in Light of World War and the Menace of Anarchism, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1918.

Studies in the Theory of Human Society, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1922.

The Scientific Study of Human Society, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 1924, reprinted, Arno Press (New York, NY), 1974.

The Mighty Medicine: Superstition and Its Antidote: aNew Liberal Education, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1929, reprinted, Kessinger Publishing, 2003.

Civilization and Society: An Account of the Development and Behavior of Human Society, arranged and edited by Howard W. Odum, Holt (New York, NY), 1932.

Editor, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 1890-92, and Publications of the American Economic Association, 1891-93.

SIDELIGHTS: Franklin Henry Giddings was a pioneer in sociological thought and was a significant founder of American sociology. Even though his ideas are now considered archaic and outdated, Giddings "is widely seen as the key figure responsible for transforming sociology from a minor branch of philosophy into an independent field of social science research," it was stated in a biographical profile in World of Sociology. "His late nineteenth and early twentieth-century work, which emphasized quantification, empirical studies, and behavioralism, laid the groundwork for the neopositivism championed by a later generation of U.S. sociologists."

Giddings spent his early childhood on a Berkshire Hills farm, more interested in outdoor activities than the elementary school classroom. He was fundamentally influenced by his surveyor grandfather, wrote Frank A. Ross in Dictionary of American Biography. His early aspirations, under his grandfather's tutelage, were directed toward a career in engineering. However, other influences were also at work on the young Giddings, Ross observed, including early reading of the works of Charles Darwin, Thomas Huxley, and John Tyndall and a chance encounter with the first issue of Popular Science Monthly, which contained the first chapter of Herbert Spencer's The Study of Sociology. "This early reading was probably the greatest formative factor of his life," Ross remarked.

Giddings enrolled at Union College in 1873, intending to become a civil engineer, but two years later health problems forced him to abandon his formal education. Instead, Giddings went into teaching. On November 8, 1876 he married Elizabeth Patience Hawes.

Following two years of teaching, Giddings undertook newspaper work in Connecticut, mainly with the Springfield Republican in Massachusetts and other papers in southwestern New England. His journalistic experience helped him to develop skills in analyzing public issues. While working in newspapers, Giddings began researching and writing about social problems, including "an investigation of cooperation and profit sharing in the United States, which he conducted for the Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics of Labor," Ross wrote. He also began to read widely in fields such as political institutions, social welfare, and political economy. "So thoroughly did he prepare himself that, although he did no further study in residence, Union college granted him the degree of A.B. in 1888 as of the class of 1877, and a year later conferred on him the degree of A.M.," Ross remarked.

At the age of thirty-three, after eleven years in active journalism, Giddings accepted a position at Bryn Mawr College, where he was the successor of Woodrow Wilson. In 1894 Giddings accepted a professorship of sociology at Columbia University—the first such professorship at any American college. Giddings remained at Columbia until his retirement in 1928, though he continued his productive work under the self-selected title of "professor emeritus-in-residence."

In 1896 Giddings published The Principles of Sociology. Although he had published earlier books, The Principles of Sociology was his first book to gain widespread notice in the United States and abroad. In it, Giddings "clearly described sociology as a special basic social science, rather than the sum of other social sciences," according to an essayist in the Encyclopedia of World Biography. "Specifically, he conceived of sociology as the study of developing forms of human society, based on the changing intensity of 'consciousness of kind,' or collective feelings of similarity and belonging. These feelings are expressed in two complementary kinds of associations: relatively cohesive and intimate groups, and groups designed for highly specialized interests. Societies develop through normal conflicts and readjustments between these two forms."

The Principles of Sociology was translated into at least seven foreign languages, and faculty at Union College thought it important enough to award Giddings an honorary degree of doctor of philosophy in recognition of the book's value. Further books by Giddings "played a lasting part in shaping social research and the concepts and teaching of sociology," Ross observed. These included Inductive Sociology, published in 1901, Readings in Descriptive and Historical Sociology, published in 1906, and Studies in the Theory of Human Society, from 1922. Giddings even published a book of poetry, Pagan Poems, in 1914.

Giddings' "enduring contributions were his assistance in bringing sociology out of the theological and into the scientific stage; his powerful influence as a propagandist; and the founding of a school of careful workers in the scientific investigation of social problems," Ross commented. In addition, "Giddings also ventured into new areas of sociological thought," it was noted in the World of Sociology profile. "Always a strong proponent of using psychological theory in his sociological work, he believed that evolutionary theory was also key to understanding the development of individual, group, and social psychology." Giddings died at his home in Scarsdale, New York on June 11, 1931.



Dictionary of American Biography, Supplements 1-2: To 1940, American Council of Learned Societies, 1944-1958.

Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd edition, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1998.

Palmisano, Joseph M., editor, World of Sociology, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001.*