Matilda White Riley

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Matilda White Riley
Born (1911-04-19)April 19, 1911
Boston, Massachusetts
Died November 14, 2004(2004-11-14) (aged 93)
Brunswick, Maine
Nationality American

Matilda White Riley (April 19, 1911 – November 14, 2004) was an American gerontologist who began working at Rutgers University as a Research Specialist before becoming a professor from 1950 to 1973.[1] Here she wrote a textbook and discovered her interest in aging. In 1973, Riley became the first full woman professor at Bowdoin College where she worked until 1981.[2] Additionally, Riley worked with the Russell Sage Foundation from 1974 to 1977 where she wrote works on the age-stratification paradigm and aging society perspective.[1]

Biography, Life, Education[edit]

Matilda White Riley was born on April 19, 1911 in Boston, Massachusetts. She was raised by her grandmother in Brunswick, Maine. Riley attended Brunswick High School; there she met her husband John (Jack) W. Riley Jr.[3] In 1931,earned her bachelor’s (and later her master’s degree) from Radcliffe College in Cambridge Massachusetts. That same year she and John married, they were married for sixty-nine years until John’s death in 2002. Together the couple would have two children, John W. Riley III and Lucy Sallick.Riley and her husband often worked side by side, recurrently co-authoring papers together, their first joint scientific paper published in the 1930s about contraceptive behavior.[3] Riley worked as a research assistant at Harvard from 1932-1933 while John was a graduate student. From 1942 to 1944, Riley worked as a market researcher and an economist for the War Production War during World War II.[1] Along with her father, Riley established the Market Research Company of America from 1939 to 1949. Later she began a career in the Sociology of Aging at Rutgers University in New Jersey and then at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine.[1] In 1972, Riley earned her Doctor of Science degree from Bowdoin College then in 1973 she earned her Doctor in Humane Letters from Rutgers University.[3]

Career Highlights and Accomplishments[edit]

Matilda White Riley was in charge of Social Science Research in the National Institute of Aging of the National Institutes of Health.[2] She was the one of the main chairperson for the NIA, who was mostly in charge of the health and behavior. She was also the co-chair of the ADAMHA that stands for Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration. She was the spoke person for the National Institute of Health (NIH) and became in charge of the behavioral and social science, also coordinated and gave seminars around the institute.[3] She and her husband were co-Presidents of the District of Columbia Sociological Society. From 1949 to 1960 she served as the Executive Officer of the American Sociological Association (ASA), and later became the 77th President of the Association. Matilda White Riley had a total of 16 books that she wrote by herself or edited with other authors.[4] Riley continued her work through her later years, she began focusing on age segregation and solutions to attain age integration.[3]

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions[edit]

  • President of the Eastern Sociological Society (1976)[3]
  • Associate Director for Behavioral and Social Research at the National Institute of Aging (1979–1991)[3]
  • 77th President of the American Sociological Association (1985–1986)[3]
  • Distinguished Scholar Award (1988)[3]
  • ASA Section on Aging (1989)[3]
  • Gerontological Society of America Distinguished Creative Contribution to Gerontology (1990)[3]
  • Social Scientist Emeritus at the NIH (1998)[3]
  • Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research[3]

On May 8, 1996 the Matilda White Riley House was dedicated in her honor as part of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Bowdoin College.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Matilda White Riley April 19, 1911 - November 14, 2004". American Sociological Association. Retrieved 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Dorsey, Elizabeth. "History of Matilda White Riley House". Bowdoin College. Retrieved October 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Abeles, Ronald. "Soaring: Celebrating Matilda White Riley (1911–2004)". National Institutes of Health. Retrieved 2011. 
  4. ^ "AGE INTEGRATION AND AGE SEGREGATION". Encyclopedia of AGING(Volume1). Retrieved August 2011. 
  5. ^ "Directory: IOM Member - Matilda White Riley, D.Sc.". Institute of Medicine. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  6. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter R". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved July 25, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Matilda White Riley". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 25 July 2014.