Lester F. Ward

Ward, Lester Frank

Lester Frank Ward, 1841–1913, American sociologist and paleontologist, b. Joliet, Ill. Largely self-educated, he eventually took degrees in medicine and law. He worked as a government geologist and paleontologist from 1881 to 1906, when he became professor of sociology at Brown. One of the first and most important of American sociologists, Ward developed a theory of planned progress called telesis, whereby man, through education and development of intellect, could direct social evolution. His theories and those of his contemporary, William Graham Sumner, represent two main trends in 19th-century American sociology. Among his important works are Dynamic Sociology (1883), Psychic Factors of Civilization (1893), Pure Sociology (1903), and Glimpses of the Cosmos (6 vol., 1913–18).

See S. Chugerman, Lester F. Ward, the American Aristotle (1939, repr. 1965).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Lester F. Ward: The American Aristotle; a Summary and Interpretation of His Sociology
Samuel Chugerman.
Duke University Press, 1939
FREE! Applied Sociology: A Treatise on the Conscious Improvement of Society by Society
Lester F. Ward.
Ginn & Company, 1906
FREE! The Psychic Factors of Civilization
Lester F. Ward.
Ginn & Company, 1893
Sociology and Education: An Analysis of the Theories of Spencer and Ward
Elsa Peverly Kimball.
Columbia University Press, 1932
A History of Social Philosophy
Charles A. Ellwood.
Prentice Hall, 1938
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XXIX "Lester F. Ward and Planned Progress"
American Social Psychology: Its Origins, Development, and European Background
Fay Berger Karpf.
McGraw-Hill, 1932
Librarian’s tip: "Lester F. Ward (1841-1913) and Other Early American Sociological Influences" begins on p. 216
The Soul's Economy: Market Society and Selfhood in American Thought, 1820-1920
Jeffrey Sklansky.
University of North Carolina Press, 2002
Sociology and Scientism: The American Quest for Objectivity, 1880-1940
Robert C. Bannister.
University of North Carolina Press, 1987
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Lester F. Ward begins on p. 13
The American Science of Politics: Its Origins and Conditions
Bernard Crick.
California University Press, 1959
Librarian’s tip: Chap. IV "Ambition and Ambiguity in the Founding of Social Science: Sumner and Ward"
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