Allison Davis 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: 1932-1984
Extent: 43.5 Linear Feet
Finding Aid
Access to this collection is restricted; please contact the holding institution for details.

Biographical/Historical Note:
William Allison Davis was a social anthropologist responsible for numerous studies of cultural and social class differences and educational efficacy. His multi-layered study of caste and class in Natchez, Mississippi, Deep South, published by the University of Chicago Press in 1941, is today considered a classic. Davis earned the admiration and respect of several key figures at the University of Chicago. Yet, because of his color, his appointment to the Department of Education was not easily won and ultimately required the financial intervention of the Julius Rosenwald Fund. Davis was furthermore denied faculty membership at the private Quadrangle Club until 1948. Nevertheless, in 1942 Allison Davis became the first African American to hold full faculty status with teaching duties in an American university which was not traditionally all black. He would remain at the University of Chicago through the rest of his career, achieving tenure in 1947 and full professorship in 1948, again firsts.

Scope and Content Note:
The Allison Davis Papers range from 1932 to 1984 and contain reprints, manuscripts, and annotated drafts, field notes, and various interview data from key projects, correspondence and enclosures, research notes, and associated works by colleagues, including students' theses, abstracts, and proposals. Most of the papers stem from his long association with the University of Chicago and include his work on child-rearing and psychological development, studies of acculturation and the public schools, work on intelligence testing, and his study of young adulthood.

Related Material: None