Glueck, Eleanor Touroff (1898–1972)

views updated

Glueck, Eleanor Touroff (1898–1972)

American research criminologist. Born Eleanor Touroff in Brooklyn, New York, on April 12, 1898; died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on September 25, 1972; daughter of Bernard Leo Touroff (a real-estate agent) and Anna (Wodzislawski) Touroff; graduated from Hunter College High School, New York City, 1916; Barnard College, New York, A.B., 1919; diploma in community organization from New York School of Social Work, 1921; Harvard University, M.Ed., 1923, Ed.D., 1925; married Sol Sheldon Glueck (a criminologist and professor of law), on April 16, 1922; children: one daughter, Anitra Joyce Glueck .

Together, Eleanor Glueck and her husband Sheldon distinguished themselves in the field of research criminology, producing numerous volumes dealing with the problems of criminals and juvenile delinquents. Felix Frankfurter, former U.S. Supreme Court associate justice, called them trailblazers, "the most fruitful workers in this resistant vineyard."

Eleanor Glueck came into the field of criminology with an extensive background in social work and education, receiving degrees from Barnard, the New York School of Social Work, and Harvard University, where she was awarded a doctorate in education in 1925. While still a student, she also worked at the Dorchester, Massachusetts, Welfare Center. Having married Sheldon Glueck in 1922, she joined him at Harvard in 1925, working as a research criminologist in the department of social ethics, where he was an instructor. Her first book, The Community Use of Schools, was published in 1927, after which she moved to the Harvard Law School as a research assistant in the Crime Survey. In 1930, she obtained a regular faculty appointment as a research assistant.

The Gluecks began their joint research of criminal character and behavior in 1925. With the help of Dr. Richard C. Cabot of the Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, they embarked on a detailed study of the former inmates of the Massachusetts Reformatory, publishing their findings in a ground-breaking work, 500 Criminal Careers (1930). Follow-up studies of the same group of men were published as Later Criminal Careers (1937) and Criminal Careers in Retrospect (1943). In these three studies, the Gluecks tackled the problem of scientifically predicting criminal response to penal treatment and identifying treatments most likely to have a positive out-come. A parallel study was conducted at the Massachusetts Reformatory for Women, resulting in the publication Five Hundred Delinquent Women (1934). Rounding out their studies was One Thousand Juvenile Delinquents; Their Treatment by Court and Clinic (1934), Juvenile Delinquents Grown Up (1940), and Unraveling Juvenile Delinquency (1950), which concluded that the quality of home life determined whether or not a child would become a juvenile delinquent, and also contained their controversial Social Prediction Tables, by which they claimed that potential delinquents could be identified by the age of six. A series of monographs followed, including Delinquents in the Making (1952), Physique and Delinquency (1956), Predicting Delinquency and Crime (1959), Family Environment and Delinquency (1962), Ventures in Criminology (1964), Delinquents and Nondelinquents in Perspective (1968), Toward a Topology of Juvenile Offenders, Implications for Therapy and Prevention (1970), and Identification of Predelinquents (1972).

Eleanor Glueck, who became a research associate in criminology at the Harvard Law School in 1953, was also a trustee of the Judge Baker Guidance Center and the Burroughs Newsboys Foundation in Boston. She was a member of the International Mental Health Conference and of the committee on crime prevention of the American Prison Association. She died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on September 25, 1972.


Candee, Marjorie Dent, ed. Current Biography 1957. NY: H.W. Wilson, 1957.

McHenry, Robert, ed. Famous American Women. NY: Dover, 1983.

Barbara Morgan , Melrose, Massachusetts