American Sociological Association

Dorothy Swaine Thomas

Dorothy Swaine Thomas

Dorothy Swaine Thomas

October 24, 1899 - May 1, 1977

Dorothy Swaine Thomas was born on October 24, 1899 in Baltimore, Maryland, the daughter of John Knight and Sarah (Swaine) Thomas. She received her B.A. degree from Barnard College in 1922 and earned a Ph.D. in 1924 from the University of London School of Economics where she was a recipient of the Hutchinson Research Medal.

Between the years of 1924 and 1948, she held research and/or academic appointments at the University of California at Berkeley, Yale University, Columbia Teachers College, the Carnegie Corporation, the Social Science Research Council, the Social Science Institute at the University of Stockholm, and the Federal Reserve Bank in New York.

Thomas became the first female professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1948 where she served as a research professor of sociology in the Wharton School. While at the University, she was a co-director of the Study of Population Redistribution and Economic Growth from 1952 to 1959, research director of the Population Studies Center from 1959 to 1970, and co-director of Population Studies Center from 1964 to 1970. She also was instrumental in developing the doctoral training program in demography. When she retired in 1970, the University gave her an honorary doctorate for her influential work in the field of demography.

Even after her retirement, Thomas continued to teach for four years at Georgetown University. She also served as a United Nations technical consultant at various times with the U.S. Bureau of the Budget, U. S. Department of Agriculture, National Resources Committee, the U.S. Bureau of the Census and other national state agencies.

Thomas was active in numerous professional associations. She served as president of both the Population Association of America and the American Sociological Society. For the latter, her Presidential Address, delivered at the 1952 ASA Annual Meeting was entitled "Experiences in Interdisciplinary Research".

Thomas was a prolific writer in the field of population statistics. She authored or co-authored six books and 71 scholarly articles between 1922 and 1969, including the landmark three-volume study that she co-authored with Simon Kuznets, Population Redistribution and Economic Growth in the United States, 1870-1950.

Dr. Dorothy Thomas died on 1 May 1977 in Bethesda, Maryland. She was the widow of the late William I. Thomas.