History

“Sociology at the University of Kansas began on Monday, February 3, 1890, at 5 p.m., when Frank Wilson Blackmar initiated a handful of students to "Elements of Sociology," a course which bears the same title today and which enrolls hundreds each semester. Blackmar was "Professor of History and Sociology," heading a department of "History and Sociology," arguably the first in the nation, and therefore the world, to be so named (Sica, 1980). Around 1915, when Albion Small solicited letters from colleagues for his analysis of the discipline's "first fifty years," Blackmar responded at length, including this remark: "So far as my knowledge goes, this was the first time that the word 'sociology' was used in connection with the name of a university department in the United States" (Small, 1949:202). Small replied, "Professor Blackmar seems to be correct on this point. No evidence of priority in this respect of the University of Kansas is known to the writer of this paper" (Small, 1949). Although some have since claimed that the University of Chicago began the American academic tradition in sociology (e.g., Faris, 1970:11; Lewis and Smith, 1980:xii), this is factually untrue. It does nothing to diminish the stature of the Chicago department to recognize that Blackmar anticipated, not imitated, their venture, and that sociology was already blooming at other Midwestern schools before Small initiated his great experiment.” 

 

Former faculty member, Dr. Alan Sica in his article, “Sociology at the University of Kansas, 1889-1983: An Historical Sketch,”  The Sociological Quarterly, Vol. 24, No. 4 (Autumn, 1983), pp. 605-623


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