Gillette, John M. (John Morris), 1866-1949

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Founder of rural sociology and professor at University of North Dakota.

John Morris Gillette was born on a farm in Missouri in 1866 and raised on a farm in Kansas. He was awarded an M.A. in theology from Princeton University and became a Presbyterian minister. Becoming disillusioned with organized religion, he studied sociology at the University of Chicago under John Dewey and Albion Small, earning a Ph. D. in 1901 with a dissertation on urban sociology.

Gillette was teaching at Valley City Normal School, North Dakota (1903-1907), when he was hired as an assistant professor of sociology and history at the University of North Dakota in 1907. That same year, he organized the Sociology Club which has been credited with persuading Roosevelt to make the Bad Lands into the Dakota National Forest in 1908. He helped to found the UND sociology department and was promoted to professor in 1908. Returning to his roots and rejecting the Spencerian view of sociology in favor of active social change, he wrote the first textbook on rural sociology (Constructive rural sociology / John M. Gillette. New York: Sturgis and Walton, 1913, rev. 1916). In 1928, he became the president of the American Sociological Society.

Active in liberal politics all his life, he wrote and lectured for the Nonpartisan League on the national level, and served on the Grand Forks City Council on the local level. He helped to found the National Votes for Women League, the Direct Legislation League, and was a charter member of the American Association of University Professors. His research interests were many, including farm issues, education, prisons, and welfare reform. Gillette retired from UND in 1948 and died in 1949.

From the description of Papers, 1895-1949 (inclusive) (University of North Dakota). WorldCat record id: 17793034

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Gillette, John M. (John Morris), 1866-1949. Papers, 1895-1949 (inclusive) University of North Dakota, Chester Fritz Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith National Nonpartisan League. corporateBody
associatedWith University of North Dakota. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
North Dakota
Education, Rural
Migration, Internal
Prison reformers
Rural conditions
Rural health
Rural poor
Rural population
Sociology, Rural
Vocational education


Birth 1866-06-29

Death 1949-10-22





Ark ID: w6vh79p3

SNAC ID: 1364333