Sorokin, Pitirim Aleksandrovich, 1889-1968

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Harvard University Dept. of Sociology professor, served as the chairman of the Eastern Sociological Conference Committee on Local Arrangements.

From the description of Correspondence with Johan Thorsten Sellin, 1931-1934. (University of Pennsylvania Library). WorldCat record id: 243847369

Ashley Montagu, born Israel Ehrenberg on June 28, 1905, was a British-American anthropologist, specializing in the areas of race and gender issues, as well as a prolific speaker and author, publishing over 50 books in his lifetime. The son of Jewish tailor Charles Ehrenberg and his wife, Mary Plot Ehrenberg, Montagu was born and raised in London's working class East End neighborhood. Although the reasoning behind his name change was never revealed, it may have been due to anti-Semitic prejudice faced by many East End Jews during his childhood, and Montagu might have felt the need to distance himself from his parents’ Russian and Polish backgrounds.

Montagu earned his undergraduate degree from University College London in psychology and anthropology. After studying anthropology at the London School of Economics under Bronislaw Malinowski, Montagu left England for the United States. He arrived at New York City in 1927 and began taking graduate classes at Columbia University. Montagu then traveled to Italy in 1928, where he took classes in ethnography and anthropology at the University of Florence. Upon his return to the United States in 1931, while working as an assistant professor of anthropology at New York University, Montagu married Marjorie Peakes. The couple would have two daughters, Audrey and Barbara, as well as a son, Geoffrey. In 1934 Montagu returned to Columbia University, culminating his postgraduate work at Columbia in 1936 with his dissertation, Coming into being among the Australian Aborigines: A study of the procreative beliefs of the native tribes of Australia, produced under the direction of Franz Boas and Ruth Benedict. Based largely on his dissertation, Montagu’s first book, Coming into Being among the Australian Aborigines, was published in 1937. After he completed his education, Montagu taught anatomy at Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia in 1938 and became an American citizen in 1940. It was during his time at Hahnemann that he began to produce work relating to race, resulting in his seminal work, Man's Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race, published in 1942. The work controversially advanced the argument that race was a social construct imposed upon a complex biological substratum and demolished the arguments for inherent inequality between human populations. The influential nature of Man’s Most Dangerous Myth led to Montagu’s service on the 4th United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) task force, in 1949. The ten member UNESCO committee, composed of such world-renowned social scientists as Claude Levi-Strauss and E. Franklin Frazier, was created to collect information about the problem of race and to establish educational programs to disseminate its findings. The resultant document, authored by Montagu, the group’s rapporteur, was published as the “Statement on Race” in 1951. The Committee’s final statement on race asserted: 1)All mankind belong to the same species and that the differences between groups are few compared to all of the genetic similarities. 2)That Race designates a group with high frequency of physical characteristics or particular genetic trait and that these traits fluctuate or even disappear over time. 3)The way in which people are grouped does not reflect the capacity or character traits of a particular group. The differences between races are physical and have no correlation with other traits like intelligence.

Upon leaving Hahnemann Medical College in 1949, Montagu moved to Rutgers University, where he was a professor of anthropology and head of the department from 1949 to 1955. While at Rutgers, Montagu wrote perhaps his most famous work, The Natural Superiority of Women, published in 1953. Examining the differences between the sexes anthropologically, Montagu concluded that women were the superior sex because they possessed a better capability to survive both as individuals and in groups- talents necessary for an advancing society. Based on these conclusions, he suggested that women receive equal pay for equal work, a controversial stance at the time.

With his prolific writing skills to rely on financially, and facing strong backlash for his openly liberal views and anti-McCarthy public statements, Montagu accepted a forced retirement from Rutgers in 1955 at the age of 50. Though retired from academic life, he continued to lecture at such institutions as Harvard University, Princeton University, the University of Santa Barbara, and New York University. Settling in Princeton, New Jersey, Montagu’s work took up a more humanist element with Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin, his effort to encourage parents to take a more physical role in raising their children and especially to encourage mothers to breastfeed their babies. Published during that same year, Montagu’s book The Elephant Man: A Study in Human Dignity, a history of the life of disfigured Briton Joseph Merrick, inspired a Tony winning play and later a motion picture. He continued publishing through the 1980s, including The Nature of Human Aggression (1976) and Growing Young (1981), while making numerous and notable television appearances on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show as well as the Phil Donahue Show.

In his lifetime, Montagu received many major awards, among them the American Association of Humanists’ 1995 Man of the Year award, the Darwin Award from the American Association of Physical Anthropologist in 1994, and the Distinguished Achievement Award from the American Anthropological Association in 1987. Montagu maintained an active schedule of lecturing and gardening around his Princeton, New Jersey, home until he was hospitalized in March 1999; he died on November 26, 1999 from heart disease, at the age of ninety-four. He was survived by his wife of sixty-eight years, Marjorie, as well as his son and two daughters.

From the guide to the Ashley Montagu papers, 1927-1999, 1927-1999, (American Philosophical Society)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Autograph File, S, 1556-1996. Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard
referencedIn Correspondence, 1860-1979. Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard
referencedIn Charles Horton Cooley papers, 1872-1930 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Intergroup Activities Photographs, [ca. 1937-1968]. Ocean County College Library, OCC Library
referencedIn Autograph File, S, 1556-1996. Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard
referencedIn Malinowski, Bronislaw, 1884-1942. Bronislaw Malinowski papers, 1869-1946 (inclusive), 1914-1939 (bulk). Yale University Library
referencedIn John Manfredi Papers FS 148., 1938-1985 Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries
referencedIn Records, 1946-2000 Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Harvard University. Dept. of Sociology. Records of the Department of Sociology, 1931-1980 (inclusive). Harvard University, Archives
creatorOf Saposnekow, Jacob, 1895-1956. Jacob Saposnekow Manuscripts and Notes on Iakov A. Novikov, ca. 1928. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Harvard University. Dept. of Sociology. Letter, 1940, to Lewis Mumford. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn T. Lynn Smith Papers, 1929-1976 University of New Mexico. Center for Southwest Research
referencedIn Edward Sanford Martin correspondence and compositions, 1882-1939 (inclusive), 1900-1938 (bulk). Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard
referencedIn Papers, 1916-1972 Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Malinowski, Bronislaw, 1884-1942. Bronislaw Malinowski papers, 1869-1946 (inclusive), 1914-1939 (bulk). Yale University Library
referencedIn Logunova, Natalii︠a︡ Apollinarievna, d. 1972?. Nataliia Apollinarievna Logunova Papers, 1913-1972. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Conference on Science, Philosophy, and Religion. Records. 1939-1977. 1940-1968. Ocean County College Library, OCC Library
creatorOf Sorokin, Pitirim Aleksandrovich, 1889-1968. Correspondence with Johan Thorsten Sellin, 1931-1934. University of Pennsylvania Library
referencedIn Abraham Aaron Roback papers, 1909-1965. Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard
creatorOf Cooley, Charles Horton, 1864-1929. Charles Horton Cooley papers, 1872-1930. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn Kazem-Bek, Aleksandr 1902-1977. Aleksandr Kazem-Bek papers, 1930-1977. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Koussevitzky, Serge, 1874-1951. Serge Koussevitzky archive, 1920-1976 (bulk 1924-1951). Library of Congress
referencedIn Merton, Robert King, 1910-2003. Robert K. Merton papers, 1928-2003 [Bulk Dates: 1943-2001]. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Aleksandr Kazem-Bek papers, 1930-1977. Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library,
referencedIn George Sarton additional papers, 1901-1956. Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard
creatorOf Ashley Montagu papers, 1927-1999, 1927-1999 American Philosophical Society
referencedIn Nataliia Apollinarievna Logunova Papers, 1913-1972. Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Bakhmeteff Archive
referencedIn Robert K. Merton Papers, 1928-2003, [Bulk Dates: 1943-2001]. Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library,
referencedIn Harper, Samuel Northrup. Papers, 1891-1943 Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library,
referencedIn Poushkin Society in America. Records of the Poushkin Society in America, 1931-1955. Library of Congress
referencedIn Smith, T. Lynn (Thomas Lynn), 1903-1976. T. Lynn Smith papers, 1929-1976. University of New Mexico-Main Campus
referencedIn Jewish Theological Seminary of America. General Files. Records, 1902-1972. 1940-1972 (bulk). Ocean County College Library, OCC Library
referencedIn Lovejoy, Arthur O. (Arthur Oncken), 1873-1962. Arthur O. Lovejoy papers, 1872-1963. Johns Hopkins University, Sheridan Libraries and the Milton S. Eisenhower Library
referencedIn Serge Koussevitzky Archive, 1920-1976, (bulk 1924-1951) Music Division Library of Congress
referencedIn Poushkin Society in America Records, 1931-1955 Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Presidential Papers, American Unitarian Association, 1936-1958. Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School
referencedIn Harper, Samuel N. (Samuel Northrup), 1882-1943. Papers, 1900-1943 (inclusive). University of Chicago Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Abbie, Andrew Arthur, 1905-1976 person
associatedWith Askenasy, Hans, 1930- person
associatedWith Benton, William, 1900-1973 person
associatedWith Boas, Franz, 1858-1942 person
associatedWith Briffault, Robert person
associatedWith Buhler, Charlotte, 1983-1974 person
associatedWith Carpenter, Edmund, 1922-2011 person
associatedWith Clark, Wilfrid E. Le Gros, (Wilfrid Edward Le Gros), 1895-1971 person
associatedWith Conference on Science, Philosophy, and Religion. corporateBody
associatedWith Cooley, Charles Horton, 1864-1929. person
associatedWith Dobzhansky, Theodosius Grigorievich, 1900-1975 person
associatedWith Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955 person
associatedWith Eisler, Riane Tennenhaus person
correspondedWith Eliot, Frederick May, 1889-1958 person
associatedWith Elkin, A. P. (Adolphus Peter), 1891-1979 person
associatedWith Evans, Bergen, 1904-1978 person
associatedWith Freeman, Derek person
associatedWith Fromm, Erich, 1900-1980 person
correspondedWith Glueck, Sheldon, 1896- person
associatedWith Goldstein, Marcus Solomon person
associatedWith Gould, Stephen Jay person
associatedWith Harper, Samuel N. (Samuel Northrup), 1882-1943. person
correspondedWith Harvard Law School Forum corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard University. Dept. of Sociology. corporateBody
associatedWith Harvard University. Dept. of Sociology. corporateBody
correspondedWith Hocking, William Ernest, 1873-1966 person
associatedWith Jewish Theological Seminary of America. corporateBody
associatedWith Jewish Theological Seminary of America. General Files. corporateBody
associatedWith Kazem-Bek, Aleksandr 1902-1977. person
associatedWith Keith, Arthur, Sir, 1866-1955 person
associatedWith Kluckhohn, Clyde, 1905-1960 person
correspondedWith Koussevitzky, Serge, 1874-1951. person
associatedWith La Barre, Weston, 1911-1996 person
associatedWith Logunova, Natalii︠a︡ Apollinarievna, d. 1972?. person
associatedWith Lovejoy, Arthur O. (Arthur Oncken), 1873-1962. person
associatedWith Malinowski, Bronislaw, 1884-1942. person
associatedWith Manfredi, John, 1920- person
correspondedWith Martin, Edward Sanford, 1856-1939 person
associatedWith Matson, Floyd W. person
associatedWith McLuhan, Marshall, 1911-1980 person
associatedWith Meade, Margaret, 1901-1978 person
associatedWith Merton, Robert King, 1910-2003. person
associatedWith Montagu, Ashley, 1905-1999 person
associatedWith Oakley, Kenneth Page, 1911 person
associatedWith Poushkin Society in America. corporateBody
correspondedWith Roback, A. A. (Abraham Aaron), 1890-1965 person
associatedWith Saposnekow, Jacob, 1895-1956. person
correspondedWith Sarton, George, 1884-1956 person
associatedWith Smith, T. Lynn (Thomas Lynn), 1903-1976. person
associatedWith Yerkes, Robert Mearns, 1876-1956 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Race
Race, race relations, racism
Social conditions, social advocacy, social reform
Gender
Anthropology, ethnography, fieldwork
Anthropology
Biology, genetics, eugenics
Social inequality
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1889-01-21

Death 1968-02-11

Americans

Russian

Information

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