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Lester Frank Ward

Date of birth : 1841-06-18
Date of death : 1913-04-18
Birthplace : Joliet, Illinois, United States
Nationality : American
Category : Arhitecture and Engineering
Last modified : 2011-09-20

Lester Frank Ward was an American geologist and biologist.

Raised in a family too poor to afford formal education, Lester Frank Ward worked in his brother's wagon wheel shop and taught himself to read and write not only in English, but in several other languages. He worked at the Treasury Department, using his earnings to put himself through college, and then embarked on a career as a geologist, biologist, and paleontologist. In the 1880s he was drawn into the then-raging sociological debate over the proper role of government, and by the force and eventual popularity of his arguments he came to be seen as one of America's leading intellectuals. Dismissing the laissez-faire arguments of Herbert Spencer and William Graham Sumner, Ward argued that society is best served when a benevolent government provides education to all, and protects the weak from the strong. Startlingly for his time, he also argued for equal treatment of the races and genders, believing equality could be accomplished by providing "wider diffusion of knowledge" and universal education to all who want it. Despite having no training in sociology, he was given a professorship at Brown University, and subsequently elected the first President of the American Sociological Association.


US Geological Survey Paleontologist (1892-1905)
US Geological Survey Geologist (1889-92)
US Geological Survey Assistant Geologist (1881-89)
US Treasury Department (1865-81)
American Sociological Association President (1906-07)
American Academy of Political and Social Science
English Ancestry

Author of books:
Guide to the Flora of Washington and Vicinity (1881)
Dynamic Sociology (1883)
Types of the Laramie Flora (1887)
Psychic Factors in Civilization (1893)
Outlines of Sociology (1898)
Pure Sociology (1903)
A Text-Book of Sociology (1905, with James Quayle Dealey)
Applied Sociology (1906)
Glimpses of the Cosmos (1912, memoirs, six volumes)
Young Ward's Diary (1935, posthumous)

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