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© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Lester F. Ward: Selected full-text books and articles

FREE! The Psychic Factors of Civilization By Lester F. Ward Ginn & Company, 1893
A History of Social Philosophy By 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 By Fay Berger Karpf McGraw-Hill, 1932
Librarian’s tip: "Lester F. Ward (1841-1913) and Other Early American Sociological Influences" begins on p. 216
Sociology and Scientism: The American Quest for Objectivity, 1880-1940 By 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 By 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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