Vice and Gangs

Professors and students focused on the city's problems. In his dissertation/book, Vice in Chicago, Walter Reckless studied fraud, prostitution, and organized crime.

Gangs are a persistent problem in today's Chicago. University of Chicago sociologists have been studying them since the mid-1920s when they were called boys' gangs. Frederic Thrasher's dissertation/book, The Gang: A Study of 1,313 Gangs in Chicago, was the first systematic study. One by one Thrasher located his gangs by neighborhood and ethnicity.

Another notable dissertation/book was The Taxi-Dance Hall by Paul G. Cressey. Aided by a team of assistants Cressey created an ethnography of this popular local institution. He wrote that the taxi-dance hall became a "social world," "morally isolated" from the wider society.

Noting their propensity to study the city's underworld, one contemporary sociologist has written that the Chicago scholars specialized in "Sociology Noir."

Map showing gang territory in Chicago with red dots within the city.
Chicago's Gangland

Map, 1927
Ernest Watson Burgess Papers

First page from a dissertation involving the Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago.
P. M. Hauser Paper for Sociology 373

Manuscript, c1929
Ernest Watson Burgess Papers

This student paper is comprised of first-hand observations of funerals for some of the men killed in the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.

Cover for "The Gang" using newpaper headlines about gangs as its background
Book Jacket for The Gang, a Study of 1,313 Gangs in Chicago

Frederic M. Thrasher, 1927
University of Chicago Press Records

Book jacket using a hand print, as taken at a police station, for its design
Book Jacket for The Natural History of a Delinquent Career

Clifford Shaw, 1931
University of Chicago Press Records

Book cover design utilizing type treatment seen for Dance Hall signage
The Taxi-Dance Hall: A Sociological Study...

Paul G. Cressey (1900–1955)
Archival Monographs Collection
Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1932

Book cover with the skyline of Chicago for its main design element
Book Jacket for Juvenile Delinquency and Urban Areas...

University of Chicago Press Records