|Lester Frank Ward|
Frank Ward, described by some as the father of American sociology,
was born June 18, 1841 in Joliet, Illinois, the son of Justus Ward and
Silence Rolph. The Ward family was not wealthy so there was no extra money
to sociology are almost forgotten today, but at one time he was considered
to be one of America's leading intellectuals. He has even been called
The Ward family moved
from Illinois to Myersburg, Pennsylvania while Frank was still young.
By day Ward joined his brother Cyrenus in their wagon wheel shop. By night
he devoured books and developed a craving for
In the early 1860's
Ward attended classes at the Susquehana Collegiate Institute in Towanada.
On August 13, 1862 he married Elizabeth "Lizzie" Caroline Bought.
When the Civil War broke out, Ward joined a local Pennsylvania regiment
and was seriously wounded at Chancellorville. Like many soldiers away
from home to fight in the war, Ward kept a journal which is still available
today under the
After the war he
began working for the federal government while continuing his education.
From 1865 to 1881 Ward was employed by the United States Treasury Department.
During this period he studied at Columbian College
In 1882 Ward was appointed
assistant geologist for the U.S. Geological Survey, a post he held for
two years. He served the USGS for the remainder
In addition to his
USGS work, Ward was appointed Honorary Curator of the Department of Fossil
Plants in the US National Museum in 1882. He remained in charge of the
national collections of fossil plants until his
Ward is best remembered
for his pioneering work in sociology. Between 1883 and his death in 1913,
he completed several important works including
His book "Dynamic
Sociology" was revolutionary, arguing that progress depended on a
planned society led and controlled by a benevolent government, that provided
universal education, freedom from poverty and happiness for all. When
this book was first published, courses in sociology were nonexistent in
American universities, and by the time the second edition was
Ward supported the idea of equality of women as well as the equality of all classes and races in society. He believed in universal education as a means of achieving this equality. Many of his ideas were unpopular among his male contemporaries, but would probably play better to an audience today.
In 1906 and 1907,
Ward served as the first President of the American
The eminent historian
Henry Steele Commager said, "In perspicacity, intellectual
Lester Ward died April 18, 1913.