American Sociological Association

Edward B. Reuter

Edward Byron Reuter

1880 - 1946

EdwarEdward Byron Reuterd B. Reuter served as the 22nd President of the American Sociological Society. Reuter presided over the organization's annual meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in December 1933 which was focused around the theme of "Race and Culture Contact."

In his 1951 book, American Sociology: The Story of Sociology in the United States through 1950, Howard W. Odum provided the following biographical sketch of Edward B. Reuter (pages 165-167):

Edward Byron Reuter continued the succession of leading sociologists who were born in the Middle States and remained there to do most of their work. He was the ninth of the Small disciples to become president of the American Sociological Society as its twenty-third president in 1933. If we add those presidents who were professors at Chicago, namely Small, Vincent, and Park, the resulting twelve constitute a little more than half of the total up to this time, while at least seven more "Chicago men" follow Reuter as presidents of the society.

Mary Schumaker, in an unpublished paper, gives the details of Reuter's early life. He was born in Holden, Missouri, on July 19, 1881, and died at Nashville, Tennessee, on May 28, 1946, at the age of 65 years. Like many other scholars of his day, he acquired his secondary and advanced education over a long period of years — twenty-two, in his case — interrupted by periods of teaching or other employment. Reuter first entered the University of Missouri in 1906 and immediately began the study of social science. Although his major interest was in sociology, he was greatly influenced during his undergraduate studies by such economists as Davenport and Veblen. He received his A.B. and B.S. degrees there in 1910, and his M.A. from the same university in 1911. He spent the next three years as principal of a high school in Tuolumne, California. Returning to his graduate studies, he entered the University of Chicago in 1914 and remained there until 1917. At Chicago he was under the special influence of Small, Thomas, Park, and Mead. In 1919 he submitted his doctoral dissertation, The Mulatto in the United States, and was awarded the Ph.D. degree, magna cum laude. According to Clyde W. Hart, in his and Reuter's Handbook of Sociology, "At Chicago, under the tutelage of Small, Thomas, Park, and Mead, Reuter discovered a conception of sociology that to his critical mind appeared to be logically defensible and practically useful. To its systematic development, exposition, and application he devoted himself throughout the remainder of his life...."

Reuter's professional career in the field of sociology began in 1918 when he went to the University of Illinois as instructor of sociology. In 1919 he served as professor of sociology at Goucher College. He went to Tulane University in 1920 as professor of sociology and director of the Red Cross School of Social Work. In 1921 he accepted a position as associate professor of sociology at the State University of Iowa; he remained at Iowa for the major portion of his professional life, serving as professor of sociology and chairman of the department of sociology from 1924 to 1944. In the summer of 1944, following his retirement from Iowa, Reuter moved to Fisk University where he replaced the late Robert E. Park as "Professor of Sociology and Consultant in Racial Research." He held this position until his death in 1946.

Reuter also served as visiting professor at the University of Hawaii during the school year 1930–31 and at the University of Puerto Rico during the year 1941–42. He spent the summer of 1928 lecturing at the University of Colorado, the summer of 1930 at Cornell University, the summer of 1939 at the University of Michigan, and the summer of 1941 at Stanford University. He taught at the University of Chicago for one quarter in 1935 and at the University of Minnesota for one quarter in 1940.

Reuter was an active and influential participant in the development of the sociological profession, serving as president of the American Sociological Society in 1933, as secretary-treasurer of the Sociological Research Association from 1936 to 1938 and as president of this group in 1939. He was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. From 1928 until a few months before his death in 1946, he was consulting editor of the McGraw-Hill "Publications in Sociology" series. He served approximately ten years as an advisory editor of The American Journal of Sociology.

Although Reuter was nearly forty years old when he made his first contribution to the literature of sociology, the volume of his publications has been considerable. He wrote six books: The Mulatto in the United States, 1918; Population Problems, 1923, revised in 1937; The American Race Problem, 1927, revised in 1938; Race Mixture, 1931; Introduction to Sociology, 1933; with Clyde W. Hart, Handbook of Sociology, 1941. He edited two additional volumes; The Family, 1931; Race and Culture Contacts, 1934. He contributed parts or chapters to Dublin's Population Problems, 1926; Young's Social Attitudes, 1931; Park's An Outline of the Principles of Sociology, 1939 and Thompson's Race Relations and the Race Problem, 1939. During the period 1917 to 1946 he published over thirty major articles in the various professional journals and over 115 reviews of contemporary books in the field of sociology. Reuter's work falls into three definite areas of sociological interest: race and culture, population, and sociological theory. Five of his books, nearly two-thirds of his articles, and more than one-half of his reviews deal with race problems or population theory or consider the nature of the relationship between biological and social phenomena. Nearly all his other works are systematic formulations of general sociological theory or discussions of specific questions within the general realm of theory. He did, however, make several brief excursions into other areas, such as the family, the sociological theory of adolescent behavior, education, social work, birth control, etc.

 

Obituary 

Written by Charles S. Johnson, published in the American Sociological Review, 11:490-491.

Edward Byron Reuter, consulting editor of the McGraw-Hill publications in sociology and professor of sociology at Fisk University died of a heart attack on May 28 at the age of sixty-six. Although continuing his teaching and writing, he had not been in vigorous health for several years.

Dr. Reuter was chairman of the depart­ment of sociology at the State University of Iowa for nineteen years, beginning in 1924. He received his B.A. and B.S. degrees in 1910 and his M.A. degree in 1911 from the University of Missouri and his Ph.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Chicago in 1919. His teaching of sociology began at the University of Illinois, where he served as instructor from 1918 to 1919. He spent the next year at Goucher College, and the following one at Tulane University in New Orleans, combining with his teaching the directorship of the Red Cross School of Social Work. His appointment as associate professor of sociology at the University of Iowa came in 1921 and in 1924 he was made professor and chairman of the department.

Dr. Reuter is the author of nine books in the fields of the family, population, and race and culture, and fifty-seven major contributions to American and European scientific journals and encyclopedias. Among his best known books are Population Problems, 1923, The American Race Problem, 1927, Race and Culture Contracts, 1934, The Family, 1936, and An Introduction to Sociology, (with C. W. Hart), 1933. Under his editorship of the McGraw-Hill texts in sociology, forty-two volumes were published. He was president of the American Sociological Society in 1933, and one of the founders and a president of the Sociological Research Association. He has served as visiting professor of sociology at the University of Hawaii, the University of Chicago, and the University of Puerto Rico. At Fisk University, he was professor of sociology and research consultant in sociology from 1943 and continued his writing in the field of sociology.

Dr. Reuter's contributions were directed toward the development of a fundamental body of sociological theory which could help students of society understand and interpret human behavior. As a teacher he inspired strong loyalties. His standards were high, and his moral and intellectual convictions strong enough for him to risk position and tenure to defend the principle of fair play, and to insist upon intellectual honesty in matters affecting the public good. His scholarly contributions to the literature of sociology have established him as one of the foremost of American sociologists and social philosophers, whose textbooks are standard sources of reference for students of the social sciences all over the world.

In spite of failing health over the past ten years, he was a tireless worker and, in addition to his published books, there are two unpublished manuscripts of equal sociological importance. With the same care with which he planned his scholarly papers, he planned his life to the end. He is survived by his wife, Mildred Goodspeed Reuter, and a son, Donald Goodspeed Reuter.
 

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