Papers of Samuel Andrew Stouffer
Samuel Andrew Stouffer (1900-1960) was professor of sociology and director the Laboratory of Social Relations at Harvard from 1946 to 1960. Throughout his career, Stouffer led major sociological studies including surveys of attitudes of soldiers in the U.S. Army for the War Department’s Information and Education Division during World War II and surveys on public opinion of communism during the McCarthy era of the 1950s. The collection contains professional papers, including correspondence, speeches, reviews, manuscripts, and other papers that reflect Stouffer’s research, publishing, and involvement in professional organizations, as well as personal papers.
- 1930 - 1960
- Stouffer, Samuel A., 1900-1960 (Person)
Open for research with the following exceptions: Harvard University records are restricted for 50 years. Personnel and student records are closed for 80 years. Specific restrictions are noted at the series level. Requires review by archivist.
Extent13.48 cubic feet (36 document boxes, 4 half document boxes, and 1 microfiche box)
The Papers of Samuel Andrew Stouffer contain Stouffer’s professional and personal papers from throughout his career as a sociologist from 1930 to 1960. The bulk of the collection contains correspondence and other papers that reflect Stouffer’s involvement with Harvard committees and other bodies, as well as professional societies and other organizations, and individuals and colleagues. Files also include questionnaires, letters of recommendation, and reports of the National Opinion Research Center and the Fund for the Republic, among others. Other papers reflect Stouffer’s research and publishing, including papers relating to research for the U.S. Army during World War II, reviews of Stouffer’s book Communism, Conformity, and Civil Liberties, and chapters and correspondence related to his book, Social Research to Test Ideas. The collection also contains speeches Stouffer gave at various events. Personal papers include travel information, address card files, and papers regarding Stouffer’s loyalty hearing before the Eastern Industrial Personnel Security Board during the McCarthy era.
Biographical Note on Samuel Andrew Stouffer
Samuel Andrew Stouffer was professor of sociology and director the Laboratory of Social Relations at Harvard University from 1946 to 1960. Stouffer was born on June 6, 1900 in Sac City, Iowa. He received a bachelor’s degree in English from Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa and a master’s degree in English from Harvard. He worked at his father’s newspaper in Sac City before attending the University of Chicago, where he received his Ph.D. in Sociology in 1930. He spent a postdoctoral year at the University of London. Stouffer served as professor of social statistics at the University of Wisconsin (1932-1935) and professor of sociology at the University of Chicago (1935-1946). In 1946, Stouffer became professor of sociology and director of the newly established Laboratory of Social Relations at Harvard. He was also active in professional organizations, as President of the American Association of Public Opinion Research (1952-1953) and President of the American Sociological Association (1953-1954). Stouffer’s major contributions to the field of sociology include large-scale quantitative social research, the probability survey, and the theory of relative deprivation. He died on August 24, 1960.
From 1941 to 1946, Stouffer led the Research Branch of the War Department’s Information and Education Division. As director, he began a study of the attitudes of servicemen. He conducted a series of morale surveys to gather data on attitudes, emotions, and conduct among military men who served in the war. The project included study of attitudes concerning general approval of the military, status satisfaction, and opinions on military education and indoctrination methods. The study also devoted significant attention to race relations within the military, comparing attitudes of white soldiers, Southern Black soldiers, and Northern Black soldiers. A significant contribution the study made to the field of sociology was the theory of relative deprivation, and the project helped to elevate public opinion of sociology as a scientific discipline. The findings were published in a four-volume series titled Studies in Social Psychology in World War II, published 1949-1950. Also during World War II, Stouffer led the study “An American Dilemma,” while its director, sociologist Gunnar Myrdal, returned to his home country Sweden during the war. The study, also known as the “Carnegie-Myrdal Study of the Negro in America,” was a major social science study of race relations in the United States and life among African Americans in the mid-twentieth century.
In the early 1950s, Stouffer became involved in McCarthy era investigations of communist sympathies among Harvard faculty. He received a letter from the Eastern Industrial Personnel Security Board informing him that he would not receive security clearance to work on classified military contracts or classified documents on account of his relationships with Harvard professors under suspicion of communist sympathies, including sociologist Talcott Parsons. Stouffer appealed the decision and won the appeal in 1954. In 1955, Stouffer published Communism, Conformity, and Civil Liberties, based on survey work commissioned by the Fund for the Republic and data collected by the American Institute of Public Opinion (better known as Gallup) and the National Opinion Research Center. The surveys were designed to collect data about the American public’s reactions to foreign and domestic communist conspiracy and to domestic defenders against communism.
Stouffer’s final publication was Social Research to Test Ideas, published posthumously in 1962. The volume is a collection of articles from throughout Stouffer’s career that he selected and organized himself shortly before his death in 1960.
The collection is arranged in 6 series. The collection follows the arrangement of call numbers given to series upon receipt at the Harvard University Archives.
- Correspondence, 1946-1960 (HUGFP 31.6)
- Papers relating to wartime research for the U.S. Army, 1942-1945 (HUGFP 31.8)
- Personal papers, 1953-1959 [and undated] (HUGFP 31.35)
- Speeches, 1930-1959 (HUGFP 31.45)
- Social Research to Test Ideas, 1960 (HUGFP 31.50)
- Reviews of Communism, Conformity, and Civil Liberties, [circa 1955] (HUGFP 31.73)
Specific acquisition information is noted at the series level.
- Gift of Mrs. Samuel Stouffer [Ruth McBurney], received 1960s.
- Transferred from the Laboratory of Social Relations, received February 1965.
- Gift of Mrs. Talcott Parsons [Helen Bancroft Walker], received 1980-03-10, accession 8855.
This document last updated 2022 May 19.
The finding aid was created by Erin Clauss in October 2020. Information in this finding aid was assembled from legacy paper inventories and container management data. Titles are transcribed from the original box list, except those in square brackets which have been supplied by the archivist. The collection was not re-examined.
Item(s) and/or series formerly classified as HUG 4811.25 ("Negro Population pt. 1") could not be located at the time of processing and should be incorporated into the collection.
- Stouffer, Samuel A., 1900-1960. Papers of Samuel Andrew Stouffer, 1930-1960 : an inventory
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Part of the Harvard University Archives Repository
Holding nearly four centuries of materials, the Harvard University Archives is the principal repository for the institutional records of Harvard University and the personal archives of Harvard faculty, as well as collections related to students, alumni, Harvard-affiliates and other associated topics. The collections document the intellectual, cultural, administrative and social life of Harvard and the influence of the University as it emerged across the globe.
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