Luther Lee Bernard
October 29, 1881 - January 23, 1951
Luther L. Bernard served as the 22nd President of the American Sociological Society. His Presidential Address entitled "Sociological Research and the Exceptional Man" was delivered at the organization's annual meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio in December 1932 and was later published in the Proceedings of the 1932 Annual Meeting.
Bernard reported that he was born October 29, 1881 in Russell County, Kentucky. Living near the Cumberland River, he recalled "As a boy I often listened to the steamboat horns or whistles on still days and wondered what a steamboat was like. When I was six or seven I found out, since our family migrated part of the way to West Texas on one of those river boats. I spent ten years in Texas, where I learned to ride bronchos and in my middle teens I worked on the cattle ranges an an embryo cowboy. In the winters I went to school. At the age of seventeen I removed with my parents to Southwest Missouri, my father having retired from active business. In Missouri I entered a small Baptist college (we were Baptists)..."
In his 1951 book, American Sociology: The Story of Sociology in the United States through 1950, Howard W. Odum provied the following biographical sketch of Luther L. Bernard (161-165):
A year before Bogardus was getting his Ph.D. degree in 1911 from Chicago's great battery of early sociologists — Small, Henderson, Vincent, Thomas, alongside Mead and others; the same year that Odum was getting his Ph.D. from Columbia; one year before Chapin and two before Ogburn were receiving their doctor's degrees from Giddings, Luther Lee Bernard, the eighth of the sixteen Chicago Ph.D.'s to be presidents of the American Sociological Society, was receiving his Ph.D. in sociology at Chicago and was setting out on an extraordinarily dynamic career of teaching and writing in many fields of sociology as it was to develop from that time on. Perhaps he has had few rivals in the number of specialisms to which he has contributed; in the number of institutions in which he has been professor; in the ever restlessness that made him America's favorite peripatetic professor of sociology; in the range and dynamics of his endeavor; and in the persistence and stubbornness of his devotion to sociology in its many facets; for, in addition to his study, teaching, and writing, it was Bernard, the twenty-second president, who set the incidence for the American Sociological Society's founding of its own official journal, the American Sociological Review.
Born in Kentucky in 1881, his academic equipment included the B.S. degree from Missouri's Pierce City Baptist College in 1900, an A.B. from the University of Missouri in 1907, and the Ph.D. degree from Chicago in 1910. Bernard's teaching experience included instructor at Pierce, 1901-3; professor of languages in Lamar College, Missouri, 1903-5; instructor in sociology, Western Reserve, 1910-11; professor of history and social science, University of Florida, 1911-14; professor of sociology, University of Missouri, 1914-17; associate professor and professor, University of Minnesota, 1918-25; professor at Cornell, 1925-26; professor of sociology at Tulane, 1927-28; professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina, 1928-29; professor of sociology at Washington University, 1929-46; and lecturer and visiting professor at Pennsylvania State College, 1947-50. He was visiting professor in the summers at Chicago, North Carolina, the University of Washington, and was research counsel fellow in Argentina.)
Bernard's main books include The Teaching of Sociology in the United States, 1909; The Transition to an Objective Standard of Social Control, 1911; Instinct, 1924; Introduction to Social Psychology, 1926; The Development of Methods in Sociology, 1928; Sociology and the Study of International Relations, 1934; Field and Methods of Sociology, edited, 1934; Social Control, 1939; Introduction to Sociology, 1942; Origins of American Sociology (with Jessie Bernard), 1943; War and Its Causes, 1944. At the time of his death in January, 1951, he was working on a sort of monumental story of American sociology and other books for which many pages of manuscript had already been written.
From his long and wide experience and observation, Bernard wrote, in 1949, "In my opinion, the field of sociology, as of every other science, social or pre-social or anti-social, is wherever it can plant itself and raise a crop, that is to say, produce some valid data about the ways in which men coadapt themselves to the world — physical or social — in which they live. That is to say, sociology in my opinion is the science of human coadaptation, which I would substitute for adaptation. This is the essence of the ecological emphasis and the word itself goes back to a conception which I worked out in my student days, over forty years ago. I might claim to be the original human ecologist, but I do not, since there are so many others who covet that title more than I. But I do believe that I invented the key word in that analogical phase of sociological science.
"Since almost no sociologist reads the contemporaneous writings of other sociologists, perhaps I should make clear just what I set out to accomplish in my systematic classification of the environments. First, I divided the natural environments into the inorganic, including the cosmic, climatic, geographic, and inorganic resource factors which condition man's behavior directly and indirectly (mainly the latter). Secondly, the organic natural environments included the fauna and the flora, which made such a strong direct impact upon the collective behavior of primitive man and which have received so much emphasis from the anthropologists.
"I divided the cultural environments into four types, corresponding to my four-fold classification of culture (which again the anthropologists, remaining content with an old dualistic classification now one hundred years old, have not discovered, perhaps because they, like the sociologists, do not read what others have to say on systematic matters): (1) the material cultural environment; (2) the bicultural environment, consisting of learned overt behavior patterns, mainly neuro-muscular skills; (3) the psychocultural or symbolic cultural environment, consisting of language forms and their accumulated cultural forms; and (4) the derivative control (chiefly institutional) cultural environments. These four phases of cultural environments include the sum total of man's collective learned achievement and thus serve as his cultural environment when conceived as a unit. Each of the first three forms of the cultural environment is derived from the natural environments by trans-forming some aspects of these environments as a by-product of man's adjustment to them. The fourth cultural environment is derived from — is a functioning composite of — the other three cultural environments. That is why it is called derivative. The word control is included in its title because it is integrated from the other three phases of cultural environment for the function of conditioning or controlling human cultural coadaptive responses to both the natural and the cultural environments. This integration usually takes the form of institutions.
"Since sociology studies the processes of coadaptive adjustment, it must seek its data wherever they are to be found, and this most often leads the sociologist across the conventional borders of economics, political life, religion (not theology), anthropology, psychology, and biology. He may penetrate into the traditional domains of archaeology, paleontology, chemistry, and physics as well as other preserves." Bernard wrote that the chief opportunities of sociology lie "in the direction of making a closer and more realistic contact between sociological theory and life. I have no patience with that phase of intellectual timidity sometimes characterized as the `ivory tower' attitude, nor has the public. Of course, the theoretical conclusions of sociology should not he influenced by the personal equation. Research should be as detached as possible as far as a method is concerned, but it should not shun the responsibility of being directed toward the solution of social problems, where these exist. Just as in political science, the sociologist must consider himself at the service of a public wise enough to make use of his knowledge of public affairs and needs. It was with such a view in mind that I wrote my War and Its Causes and my Social Control. I am sure that students feel this way about the field of sociology. In the applied field it is already making a valuable contribution, but a little more boldness in projecting needed social policies would, I think, call forth a generous response on the part of thinking people. In the field of sociological theory, sociology would do well to attack some of the pressing problems of our age, such as democracy, war, class and race conflict, international relations, welfare policies. The work of Leonard T. Hobhouse might wellserve as a valuable example in this connection."
With reference to his own procedures and methods, some of which remind us of Ward and Sumner, both in reading habits and in the voluminous notes on file, Bernard writes: "In the fifteen years following my first efforts in 1909, I worked as constantly as my teaching duties would permit on the analysis of the literature of biology, neurology, psychology, education, sociology and the other social sciences insofar as they dealt with the subject of instinct. I must have read one thousand volumes in those fifteen years. I collected thousands of pages of notes and aroused a marked interest in my students with reference to the subject, echoes of which I still hear after thirty years. Jokes were some-times made about my obsession with the subject at annual meetings of the American Sociological Society. In the winter of 1917-18, my first year at the University of Minnesota, I wrote out a first draft of the mis-use of the instinct concept in the social sciences. This rather voluminous summary of my documentary material served thereafter as the basis for the reduction of my data to monographic form for publication. Six more years were spent in further collection of material relative to the use of the instinct concept and in reducing it to statistical and critical form. In 1921–22 I was awarded the first Amherst Memorial Fellowship to enable me to complete the work. This freed me from my regular duties at the University of Minnesota for a year and by the end of 1923 I had the book, Instinct: A Study in Social Psychology, ready for the press." This book appeared in Odum's "Social Science Series," in 1924.
Bernard, like his colleagues, was called upon to do many things in kindred fields. On request he enumerated some of them. He held many positions on committees and in associations in sociology and social welfare work, the most important of which was the presidency of the American Sociological Society in 1932. He was also treasurer of the Florida Conference of Charities and Corrections and chairman of the Florida Child Labor Committee early in his teaching career. He served for some years as chairman of a St. Louis committee to promote normal conditions for children in the underprivileged sections of the city. He was, from 1933 to 1936, a member of the National Council of the American Association of University Professors and was a member of a group that worked unsuccessfully for certain reforms in that organization. He became early (1911) by invitation, a corresponding member of the Institut Solvay of Brussels and was later elected to membership in the Institut International de Sociologie, also to membership in the Association for Historical Investigations of Argentina, and to a similar position in the Masaryk Sociological Society of Czechoslovakia, which conferred a medal upon him for his work in sociology. At different times he was on the editorial staffs of Sociologus, Social Forces, The Journal of Educational Sociology, American Sociological Review, Social Science, and for a time edited his own American Sociologist. He was national chair-man of Alpha Pi Zeta, a social science fraternity, in 1924 and 1925. For ten years (1937–46) he served as national president of Alpha Kappa Delta, the sociology honor fraternity. When president of the American Sociological Society he appointed the committee that recommended the establishment of an official journal for the society. He pushed the resolution through and named the new official organ the American Sociological Review.