William I. Thomas was born in Russell County, Virginia on August 13, 1863. He attended the University of Tennessee (B.A., 1884), (Ph.D. in Literature, 1886). Thomas was awarded a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago in 1896.
Thomas was a Professor at Oberlin College (1889-1894). In 1900 he moved to the University of Chicago where he became Assistant Professor (1900-1910), and Professor of Sociology (1910-1918). Thomas was a lecturer at the New School for Social Research (1923-1928), and Harvard University (1936-1937). He also served as the Director of the Helen Culver Fund for Race Psychology, (1908-1918), and the President of the American Sociological Society, (1927).
Among Thomas' published works are: Sex and Society: Studies in the Social Psychology of Sex (1907), The Origins of Society and the State (1915), The Polish Peasant in Europe and America (1918-1920), Old World Traits Transplanted (1921), The Child in America: Behavior Problems and Programs (1928), and Primitive Behavior: An Introduction to the Social Sciences (1937). Thomas was also the subject of Social Behavior and Personality: Contributions of W.I. Thomas to Theory and Social Research (1951).
William I. Thomas died on December 5, 1947.
From the guide to the Thomas, William I., Papers, 1908-1974, (Special Collections Research Center University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.)