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Robert E. Park

Robert E. ParkAKA Robert Ezra Park

Born: 14-Feb-1864
Birthplace: Harveyville, PA
Died: 7-Feb-1944
Location of death: Nashville, TN
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Religion: Unitarian
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Sociologist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Race and Culture

Sociologist Robert E. Park worked as a railroad laborer for almost a year before enrolling in college, first at the University of Minnesota and later at the University of Michigan, where he became a friend of John Dewey. After graduating he worked for a decade as a newspaper reporter before attending Harvard, and there he studied under William James and earned his Master's degree. He then moved to Germany and enrolled at the University of Berlin, where he took his first course in sociology, taught by Georg Simmel, and became fascinated by the topic.

He earned his doctorate in sociology at the University of Heidelberg, and became a leading proponent of a new "ethnographic" theory of social movements. He pioneered observational studies of homeless men, juvenile delinquents, and impoverished families and communities. He worked extensively among Africans and African-Americans, and proposed what was called a "race relations cycle," wherein minority immigrants to America arrive as competitors to the white majority, then pass through stages of conflict and accommodation before becoming assimilated into US society. His work advanced ethnic and urban studies and helped to develop the field of sociology, and his 1921 book Introduction to the Science of Sociology, co-authored with Ernest Burgess, became a standard in the field.

He briefly worked as press agent for the Congo Reform Association, a group dedicated to more humane government in that African nation, and he was a founding member of the Committee on Urban Conditions Among Negroes, now known as the Urban League. He spent a decade working in public relations for Booker T. Washington at the Tuskegee Institute. Returning to academia in 1914, he taught at the University of Chicago, where his students included noted black sociologist Charles S. Johnson, and he later joined Johnson on the faculty at the historically-black Fisk University. He held that sociology was similar to his first career, journalism, and saw himself as "reporting on the long-term trends which record what is actually going on rather than what, on the surface, merely seems to be going on."

His wife, Clara Cahill Park, was a respected artist and syndicated newspaper columnist, and an activist for women's rights and pensions for widows and orphans. According to a story often told by Park, when he was a teenager in Red Wing, Minnesota, he was approached by a man who asked for directions, and he later learned that the man was Jesse James, who had just robbed a bank in nearby Northfield, MN.

Father: Hiram Asa Park (grocer, b. 28-Mar-1838, d. 21-Mar-1911)
Mother: Theodosia Warner (teacher, b. 8-Feb-1841, d. 2-Dec-1884)
Brother: Edward Warner Park (b. 5-Jun-1869, d. 11-Nov-1869)
Brother: Asa Eugene Park (b. 16-Jul-1870, d. 26-Feb-1886)
Brother: Augustine Hiram Park (b. 24-Aug-1879, d. 28-Feb-1898)
Wife: Clara Cahill Park (artist, b. 1869, m. 1894)
Son: Edward Cahill Park (b. 1895)
Daughter: Theodosia Warner Park (artist, b. 1896, d. 1985)
Daughter: Margaret Lucy Park Redfield (anthropologist, b. 1898, d. 1977)
Son: Robert Hiram Park

    High School: Red Wing High School, Red Wing, MN (1882)
    University: University of Minnesota (attended, 1883-84)
    University: BA Philosophy, University of Michigan (1887)
    University: MA Philosophy, Harvard University (1899)
    University: University of Berlin (attended, 1900-01)
    University: PhD Sociology, University of Heidelberg (1904)
    Teacher: Philosophy, Harvard University (1903-05)
    Administrator: Director of Public Relations, Tuskegee Institute (1905-14)
    Teacher: Sociology, University of Chicago (1914-23)
    Professor: Sociology, University of Chicago (1923-36)
    Professor: Sociology, University of Hawaii (1931-33)
    Professor: Sociology, Fisk University (1936-43)

    American Sociological Association President (1925)
    Phi Beta Kappa Society
    Urban League Co-Founder (1910)
    Norwegian Ancestry (paternal)

Author of books:
Introduction to the Science of Sociology (1921, with Ernest Burgess)
Old World Traits Transplanted (1921, with Herbert A. Miller)
The Immigrant Press and Its Control (1922)
The City Suggestions for the Study of Human Nature in the Urban Environment (1925)
Race and Culture (1950, posthumous)
Human Communities (1952, posthumous)

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