Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Hill, Michael R. 2000. “Epistemological Realities: Archival Data and Disciplinary Knowledge in the History of Sociology – Or, When Did George Elliott Howard Study in Paris?” Sociological Origins 2 (1, Special Supplement): 3-25.


Copyright 2000 Michael R. Hill


This supplement is published in conjunction with the Interim Meeting of the International Sociological Association, Research Committee on the History of Sociology (RCHS) in Torun, Poland, June 1-4, 2000. As many of my colleagues from the United States travel to Europe this summer for the interim meeting in the historic city of Torun, it seems especially appropriate to recall the trans-Atlantic educational adventures of one of our American sociological pioneers.

George Elliott Howard (1849-1928), president of the American Sociological Society in 1917, was one of those American scholars who recognized the value of European training at a time when opportunities for advanced study in the United States were limited or nonexistent, depending on one’s field of interest. Howard, who enrolled in university studies in Munich during 1876-78, joined the ranks of several notable social scientists who took similar treks: William Graham Sumner traveled to Göttingen and Oxford after graduating from Yale College in 1863, Albion W. Small went to Berlin and Leipzig in 1879-81, Florence Kelley entered the University of Zurich in 1883, William I. Thomas studied in Berlin and Göttingen in 1888-89, George Herbert Mead traveled to Leipzig and Berlin in 1888-91, W.E.B. DuBois studied in Berlin during 1892-94, Charles R. Henderson completed a degree at Leipzig in 1901, and Robert E. Park finished his degree at Heidelberg in 1904, to list only a few names well known to American sociologists. For discussion of this phenomenon, see Thwing (1928). The present paper examines the dates of George E. Howard’s studies in Germany and France.

It is a great pleasure, and an extraordinary privilege, to return to Europe for another interim meeting of RCHS. Copies of this special supplement are being made available in Torun prior to the formal release of the Summer issue (Vol. 2, No. 1) of SOCIOLOGICAL ORIGINS. To our hosts in Torun, I extend—along with all of my colleagues—our most hearty thanks and congratulations.