Sociology, Department of


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Hill, Michael R. 2003. “Harriet Martineau and the Sociology of the American South.” Paper presented to the Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association, Section on the History of Sociology, Atlanta Hilton, August 16.


Copyright 2003 Michael R. Hill


Harriet Martineau (1802-1876) was the first significant woman sociologist, and was also the first methodologically competent sociologist to make systematic observations throughout the American South. Martineau’s writings on American society in the 1830s provide an enduring model of observational dedication and perseverance. Of the two and a half years that Martineau devoted to data collection in the U.S., she allotted six months to direct observation and face-to-face interviews in the southern states. From late December 1834 to early July 1835, Martineau completed first-hand observations in Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kentucky (Map 1).