Foundational Books and Essays

The kick-off statement of the Chicago school was Robert Park's 1915 essay, "The City: Suggestions for the Investigation of Human Behavior in the City Environment," in which Park lays out a program for scientific research. He presents a general argument, but he implies that the investigation should be carried out in Chicago. In 1925, Ernest Burgess published "Growth of the City: Introduction to a Research Project," which also became a landmark in urban studies. Burgess had been Park's student, but when he wrote this essay he was a faculty member. Then, in 1938, Louis Wirth published "Urbanism as a Way of Life," which may be seen as a capstone to the Chicago school. Like Burgess, Wirth had come to the department as a student, but after he got his Ph.D., and after he taught briefly at Tulane, he was brought back to become a faculty member.

Like these essays, there is a group of books that anchor the Chicago School. British sociologist, Martin Bulmer, who wrote The Chicago School of Sociology, identifies the first two major empirical studies. ". . . The Polish Peasant in Europe and America, published in 1918-1920, marks the ascent of Chicago to a position of national and international leadership." Bulmer notes that "the next major piece of empirical research to appear (was) The Negro in Chicago (1922)."

Park and Burgess co-authored a textbook, Introduction to the Science of Sociology, which became popular in colleges and universities across the nation. Students referred to it as "the green bible."

Robert E. Park (1864-1944)

"The City: Suggestions for the Investigation of Human Behavior in the City Environment"
The American Journal of Sociology, March 1915, Vol. 20, No. 5
Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1915
Regenstein Library, General Collections

William I. Thomas (1863-1947) and Florian Znaniecki (1882-1958)

The Polish Peasant in Europe and America
Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1918. Vol. 1
Archival Monographs Collection, Gift of William V. Morgenstern

An Introduction to the Science of Sociology

Book Jacket for 2nd Edition, c1926
University of Chicago Press Records

Recent Social Changes...

Book Jacket, 1927
University of Chicago Press Records

William Fielding Ogburn was a professor from 1927 to 1951. He was the most accomplished statistician in the department.

"Organizing the City as a Social Laboratory..."

Manuscript, c1929
Ernest Watson Burgess Papers

"Urbanism as a Way of Life"

Manuscript, 193?
Louis Wirth Papers