Lester Frank Ward.  A guide to resources.

Extract from Britannica and other sources: WARD, LESTER FRANK: b. June 18, 1841, Joliet, Ill., U.S.  -  d. April 18, 1913, Washington, D.C.
Sociologist who was instrumental in establishing sociology as an academic discipline in the United States. An optimist who believed that the social sciences had already given mankind the information basic to happiness, he advocated a planned, or "telic," society ("sociocracy") in which education, nationally organized, would be the dynamic factor. Social scientists, assembled into a legislative advisory academy in Washington, D.C., would occupy in his system much the same role as did the sociologist-priests in the utopian plan of the French sociologist Auguste Comte.
After fighting for the Union in the American Civil War, he obtained degrees in botany and law. For most of his life he worked for the federal government, mainly in the fields of geology, paleontology, botany, and paleobotany; he made some significant contributions to botanical theory. In 1906 ... he was appointed professor of sociology at Brown University, Providence, R.I., and held that position until his death. In 1905 he became the editor of the American Journal of Sociology, and in 1907 he served as the first President of the American Sociological Society (now the American Sociological Association). Ward followed Comte in conceiving of sociology as the fundamental social science, the primary responsibility of which is to teach methods of achieving a better society. Ward's emphasis on social function and planning, rather than social structure, had considerable effect on Thorstein Veblen and the institutional economists.
Ward's most important contribution to sociology was his insistence that social laws, once identified, can be harnessed and controlled. He also supported the idea of equality of women as well as the equality of all classes and races in society and believed in universal education as a means of achieving this equality.

  (U.S. copyright free. Books scanned, proof-read by the author of this site)

  • (1883, 21897) Dynamic Sociology (2 vols.).
    Or Applied social science as bases upon statical sociology and the less complex sciences.

  • (1893, 21906) The Psychic Factors of Civilization. [1,726 KB -PDF]
  • (1895-97) Contributions to Social Philosophy. [596 KB - PDF]
  • (1898, repr. 1913) Outlines of Sociology. [609 KB -PDF]
  • (1902) Contemporary Sociology. [333 KB - PDF]
  • (1903) Pure Sociology. A Treatise on the Origin and Spontaneous Development of Society. [2,625 KB - PDF]
  • (1905, with James Q. Dealey) A Text-Book of Sociology. [1,336 KB - PDF]
  • (1906) Applied Sociology. A Treatise on the Conscious Improvement of Society by Society.   [2,305 KB - PDF]
  • (1913-18) Glimpses of the Cosmos. A Mental Autobiography. (6 vols.)
    (Notice: Only Contents of the 6 vols. prepared for download!)
     Vol. I - Adolescence to Manhood. (Period 1858-1874). New York, London: G. P. Putnam, 1913.
     Vol. II - Scientific Career Inaugurated. (Period 1875-1882). New York, London: G. P. Putnam, 1913. 464 pp.
     Vol. III - Dynamic Sociology. (Period 1882-1885). New York, London: G. P. Putnam, 1913.
     Vol. IV - (Period 1885-1893). New York, London: G. P. Putnam, 1915. 388 pp.
     Vol. V - (Period 1893-1897). New York, London: G. P. Putnam, 1917.
     Vol. VI - (Period 1897-1912). New York, London: G. P. Putnam, 1918.
  • The collection “Glimpses of the Cosmos” forms an amazing symposia of knowledge: It contains thousands of letters, essays, lectures, and articles which spread over half a century on topics as these: Kant's Antinomies in the Light of Modern Science; Eugenics, Euthenics, and Eudemics; The Use and Abuse of Wealth; Spencer's Sociology; The Immortality that Science Teaches; Evolution of Chemical Elements; The Nature of Religion; What Shall the Public Schools Teach?; The Course of Biological Evolution; The Natural Storage of Energy; Ethical Aspects of Social Science; Genius and Woman's Intuition.


  • Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7321 - Lester Frank Ward Papers, 1882-1913, with Related Materials to Circa 1965.
  • Upon his death, Ward willed his personal library and many of his papers to Brown University. The John Hay Library at Brown University in Providence, R.I. has a collection of Ward's materials.
  • Burnham, John C. Lester Frank Ward in American thought. Washington, D.C., 1956.
  • Cape, Emily P[almer] Lester Frank Ward: A Personal Sketch. New York: Putnam, 1922.
  • Chugerman, Samuel Lester F. Ward, The American Aristotle: A Summary and Interpretation of his Sociology (Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press, 1939; repr. 1965).
  • Chriss, James J., "The Place of Lester Ward among the Sociological Classics." Journal of Classical Sociology, 2006, vol. 6 (1): 5-21
  • Dealey, James Q. et al. “Lester Frank Ward.” The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 19, No. 1 (Jul., 1913), pp. 61-78
  • Dealey, James Quayle. “Masters of Social Science: Lester Frank Ward.” Social Forces, Vol. 4, No. 2 (Dec., 1925), pp. 257-272.
  • Rafferty, Edward C. Apostle of Human Progress. Lester Frank Ward and American Political Thought, 1841/1913. Lanham, Boulder, New York, Oxford, 2003.
  • Small, Albion W. et al. “The Letters of Albion W. Small to Lester F. Ward.” Social Forces, Vol. 12, No. 2 (Dec., 1933), pp. 163-173.
  • Stern, B. J. 1938. “The Ward-Ross Correspondence.” American Sociological Review 3:362-401; 1946, 11:593-605; 1947, 12:703-20; 1948, 13:82-94; 1949, 14:88-119.

      For further information see the indexes of the few books mentioned before.



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