The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.

The Division of the Social Sciences did not come into existence officially until 1934, but it may be said that the concept originated when the Social Science Research Council of Michigan was organized.

On January 6, 1930, in the rooms of the Department of Political Science in Angell Hall, eight members of the University staff signed the articles of association of the Social Science Research Council of Michigan, a nonprofit corporation registered with the office of the secretary of state of Michigan. The corporation was indebted to Robert T. Crane, then Professor of Political Science in the University, for originating the idea, and for aiding very materially in establishing the corporation upon a sound basis. Its purpose was to encourage, support, and conduct if necessary, research in any of the general fields of the social sciences. The original eight directors of the corporation represented eight different fields in the social sciences, as follows:

  • Anthropology, Carl E. Guthe
  • Economics, Charles F. Remer
  • Geography, Preston E. James
  • History, Arthur E. R. Boak
  • Law, Henry M. Bates
  • Political Science, Joseph R. Hayden
  • Psychology, Henry F. Adams
  • Sociology, Robert C. Angell

At a meeting on January 18, 1930, Dean Bates was elected chairman of the corporation, and Professor Boak, vicechairman. Dr. Guthe and Professor Remer were elected secretary and treasurer, respectively. During the spring, steps were taken to further the objectives of the corporation. A committee on ways and means was created to canvass the possibility of securing funds, and a committee on projects was established to study the extent and nature of research then in progress at the University of Michigan.

In the succeeding few years the Social Science Research Council of Michigan was recognized by the national Social Science Research Council in New York. The personnel of the original Board changed slightly, as the directors either were re-elected or were succeeded by Page  305others as representatives of the eight units. In the meantime the Board was also increased slightly by the addition of a few directors at large. Through consultations with various members of the faculty and discussions at the meetings of the Board, a list of University research projects worthy of the support of the Council was prepared.

In the spring of 1933 negotiations were begun whereby the potential facilities of the Social Science Research Council of Michigan would be integrated with the administrative procedures of the University, through the president's office and the Graduate School. It is probable that these discussions were partly responsible for the development of the concept of the Division of the Social Sciences. On May 5, 1934, President Ruthven met with the directors of the Council to discuss mutual problems.

At a meeting of the professorial members of ten University units, on May 9, 1934, a suggested plan of organization was discussed, and a motion was passed requesting the President to recognize the ten units as a tentative Division of the Social Sciences. Within this tentative Division a committee on social science research was set up, which consisted in large measure of the incumbent directors of the Social Science Research Council of Michigan. This latter corporation, by unanimous agreement of the directors, ceased to exist at the close of the meeting on May 9.

The Regents, at their May meeting (R.P., 1932-36, pp. 347-48), recognized the Division of the Social Sciences as a grouping of the Departments of Anthropology, Economics, Geography, History, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, the Law School, and the School of Business Administration. The function of the Division is advisory. Its specific duties of advice and recommendation concern the interrelations of its several curriculums, the encouragement of individual research, and the promotion of cooperative investigations. The first committee on social science research included the following members, elected by their respective departments:

  • Anthropology, Carl E. Guthe
  • Business Administration, Olin W. Blackett
  • Economics, Charles F. Remer
  • Geography, Preston E. James
  • History, Lewis G. Vander Velde
  • Law, John P. Dawson
  • Philosophy, Roy W. Sellars
  • Political Science, James K. Pollock
  • Psychology, Charles H. Griffitts
  • Sociology, Roderick D. McKenzie

During the school year 1934-35, additional steps were taken in the organization of the Division. At a dinner meeting on December 13, a special committee of three was named (Professor Boak, chairman, and Professors E. Blythe Stason and Robert C. Angell) to consider the further organization of the Division. At a meeting of the Division on February 19, 1935, the report of this committee was received and discussed. The committee on social science research was replaced by a general committee, consisting of one representative from each of the co-operating units of the University, which was empowered to deal with all matters concerning the Division as a whole, including the appointment of a research committee and the nomination of a chairman of the Division from among its members for appointment by the president of the University. In March a research committee of five within the Division was created, and later in the month the Regents (R.P., 1932-36, p. 559) appointed Dr. Carl E. Guthe Chairman of the Division. The general committee had elected Professor Remer as vice-chairman and Professor James as secretary. Since the spring of 1935 Page  306the organization of the Division has remained unchanged.

The committee on social science research, established in the spring of 1934, inherited the data assembled by the committee on projects of the former Social Science Research Council of Michigan, and studied them further. At the close of the school year, in June, 1934, Professor Remer, then chairman of this committee, submitted a long report to President Ruthven upon the status and needs of social science research at the University. This committee continued to serve through the school year of 1935 until the appointment of the research committee of five in the spring. Both of these committees of the Division have maintained their contact with the national Social Science Research Council, the headquarters of which are in New York City. The research committee of the Division has felt that part of its duty is to discuss policies and encourage progress in social science research at the University. More specifically, it has co-operated actively with the Graduate School in advising upon those research projects in the social sciences for which requests have been made for grants-in-aid from the funds at that School's disposal. It has served the Executive Board of the Graduate School continuously as an advisory committee on research in the social sciences. The Executive Board's establishment of a series of small advisory committees in the several major fields of knowledge was perhaps based upon the example set by the Division of the Social Sciences in creating its committee on research.

The general committee of the Division has held several meetings each year at which a variety of subjects of interest to the social sciences as a group was discussed. These included such items as concentration programs, the development of the Graduate School faculty, the Institute of the Health and Social Sciences, the proposal for a laboratory of statistics, and the honors system.

The personnel of the general committee has changed each fall as the staggered three-year terms of members have ended. Each fall the general committee has elected a new committee on research, since membership in the smaller group is for one year only. Not infrequently individuals were elected to succeed themselves upon this committee. In the fall of 1938 Robert B. Hall, Professor of Geography, was appointed Chairman of the Division of Social Sciences by the Board of Regents (R.P., 1936-39, p. 764) to succeed Dr. Guthe, whose three-year term of office had expired.