Edward Alsworth

Edward Alsworth

Ross, Edward Alsworth, 1866-1951, American sociologist, b. Virden, Ill., Ph.D. Johns Hopkins, 1891. He taught economics (1893-1900) at Stanford Univ., from which he was ousted in a controversy over academic freedom. He had opposed the use of migrant Chinese labor in the building of the railroads, a political position that disturbed the Stanfords, who were involved in the building of the Union Pacific RR. From 1906 to 1937 he was professor of sociology at the Univ. of Wisconsin. He analyzed collective behavior and social control and wrote voluminously on population and other problems. His chief works are Social Control (1901, new ed. 1969) and Principles of Sociology (1921).

See his autobiography, Seventy Years of It (1937); study by J. Weinberg (1972).

Edward Alsworth Ross (1866–1951) was a progressive American sociologist and a major figure of early criminology. He graduated from Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa in 1886. Ross was forced from Stanford University for his objection to Chinese coolie labor. This position was at odds with the university's founding family, the Stanfords who had made their fortune in western rail construction--a major employer of Chinese laborers. Ross left for the University of Nebraska, and later held the position of Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Interestingly, Ross'understanding of Americanization and assimilaiton bore a striking resemblance to that of another Wisconsin professor, Frederick Jackson Turner. Like Turner, Ross believed that American identity was forged in the crucible of the wilderness. The 1890 census’ proclamation that the frontier had disappeared, then, posed a significant threat to America’s ability to assimilate the mass of immigrants who were arriving from Southern and Eastern Europe. In 1897, just four years after Turner had presented his frontier thesis to the American Historical Association, Ross, still a professor at Stanford, argued that the loss of the frontier destroyed the machinery of the melting pot process. Ross supported the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, even as he acknowledged its bloody origins.


  • Social Control (1901)
  • Sin and Society (1907)
  • Social Psychology (1908)
  • The Old World in the New: The Significance of Past and Present Immigration to the American People (1914)
  • Italians In America (1914)
  • The Principles of Sociology (1920)
  • The Russian Bolshevik Revolution (1921)
  • The Social Trend (1922)
  • The Russian Soviet Republic (1923)

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