Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Sociological Origins 4 (Fall): 35-36.


Copyright 2005 Mary Jo Deegan.


THE DEATH of Helena Znaniecka Lopata represents a significant loss to the History of Sociology section because she was a good friend and colleague. Because of her direct family tie to the early years of sociology, especially at the University of Chicago, her passing also signals the end of an important era in the discipline. I knew Helena for over 30 years, and I was asked to reflect briefly on her life and career at our section reception in Atlanta. For those members not at the reception, this is what I said. Helena Lopata was a friend to many of us in the History of Sociology section. She passionately loved and hated sociology, and these strong emotions were tied to the complex career of her father, Florian Znaniecki; her uncertain place in Polish and American society; her roles as a daughter, wife, housewife, and intellectual; and her ambivalence to Chicago sociology. I met Helena in 1971, and we had a long and complicated relationship. As a feminist, she loved my work. As a loyal yet confused Chicago alumna, she hated my work. But her relationship to the History of Sociology section and to the Harriet Martineau Sociological Society was strong, positive, and brimming with curiosity.