Ernest Watson Burgess Papers

Institution: University of Chicago Library - Special Collections Research Center
1100 E. 57th Street
Chicago, IL 60637-1504
Phone: 773-702-8705
Fax: 773-702-3728
Date: 1886-1966
Extent: 261 Linear Feet
Finding Aid
Access to this collection is restricted; please contact the holding institution for details.

Biographical/Historical Note:
Ernest Burgess' career spanned all phases of the development of sociology at Chicago. Beginning with the early years in which sociology and anthropology were wedded in the same department, to the development of specialized research centers for contemporary social phenomena, e.g., the Family and Community Research Center and the Chicago Community Inventory, Burgess' influence helped to maintain a strong empirically oriented series of research projects and dissertations. It can be argued that the truly systematic feature of his research, as distinguished from the more comprehensive theoretical structures erected by the earlier founders of sociology, was an effort to develop a reliable tool for prediction of social phenomena, e.g., delinquency, parole violation, divorce, city growth, and adjustment in old age. Throughout his career Burgess participated in efforts to promote the collaboration of specialists from all the different social science areas to work together on joint research projects. His final project to study old age typified this by combining the efforts of medical doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, anthropologists, and sociologists in a single all-inclusive effort.

Scope and Content Note:
Contains correspondence; manuscripts; minutes; reports; memoranda; research material that includes proposals, case studies, questionnaires, tables, and interviews; teaching and course materials, class record books; letters of recommendation; bibliographies; student papers; offprints; and maps and charts. Includes material relating to professional organizations with which Burgess was associated. Topics reflect Burgess' interest in urban sociology, family and marriage, crime and delinquency, parole, census work, and gerontology as well as research methods such as statistical predictors, factor analysis, case studies, and the use of personal documents. Also contains research projects on the Protestant church and the effects of radio on the development of children. Papers by students and colleagues include writings by Saul Alinsky, Nels Anderson, Leonard Cottrell, Paul Cressey, John Landesco, Walter Reckless, Clifford Shaw, Paul Siu, Frederick Thrasher, and others. The material in the Addenda pertains to the research and work of Elihu Katz, Burgess's colleague in the Department of Sociology during the latter days of Burgess's career. Katz joined the faculty in 1954, two years after Burgess's formal retirement and remained a member until 1969, three years after Burgess's death.

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