Carl Kelsey

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Carl Kelsey
Born (1870-09-02)September 2, 1870
Grinnell, Iowa
Died October 15, 1953(1953-10-15) (aged 83)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Education Iowa College, Andover Theological Seminary, University of Gottingen, University of Pennsylvania
Scientific career
Fields Sociology
Institutions University of Pennsylvania
Thesis The Negro Farmer (1903)
Notable students Willard Waller,[1] Richard R. Wright, Jr.[2]

Carl Kelsey (September 2, 1870 in Grinnell, Iowa—October 15, 1953 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) was an American sociologist and professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania.


A native of Grinnell, Iowa, Kelsey was educated at Iowa College, Andover Theological Seminary, the University of Gottingen, and the University of Pennsylvania.[3] He began his career as a social worker in Helena, Montana in 1895, before moving to do the same job in Buffalo, New York, Boston, and Chicago. In 1903, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, and joined their faculty as an instructor the same year. He became an assistant professor there in 1904, and a full professor in 1907.[4][5] From 1913 to 1925, he was the vice president of the American Academy of Political and Social Science,[6] and served as its secretary for many years.[7]


Kelsey's best known book is the Negro Farmer, originally published as his Ph.D. thesis in 1903. It argued that African American farmers were incompetent, in line with mainstream stereotypes at the time.[8] He became active in the child welfare movement in the early 1900s. He helped establish the Philadelphia Training School for Social Work in 1908[9] and served as its consulting director for the following year. This school later became the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice, which is one of the most prestigious social work programs in the United States.[10][11][12] Though he originally believed in a Lamarckian view of human characteristics, this changed starting in 1907. That year, he became a prominent proponent of the Boasian view that all races were approximately equal in their mental ability, and that racial differences were "largely superficial".[13]


  1. ^ Waller, Willard (October 1970). Willard W. Waller on the Family, Education, and War. University of Chicago Press. p. 22. ISBN 9780226871523. 
  2. ^ Morris, Aldon (2015-08-27). The Scholar Denied: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Birth of Modern Sociology. Univ of California Press. p. 64. ISBN 9780520960480. 
  3. ^ Handy, William Matthews; Higgins, Charles (1906). The Making of America. Making of America. p. 386. 
  4. ^ Register - University of California. University of California Press. 1937. p. 6. 
  5. ^ Charities and the Commons. Charity Organization Society. 1908. p. 395. 
  6. ^ Washington, Booker T.; Harlan, Louis R. (November 1984). Booker T. Washington Papers Volume 13: 1914-15. Assistant Editors, Susan Valenza and Sadie M. Harlan. University of Illinois Press. p. 34. ISBN 9780252011252. 
  7. ^ "Deaths Elsewhere". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 1953-10-19. Retrieved 2017-09-10. 
  8. ^ Wilson, Francille Rusan (2006). The Segregated Scholars: Black Social Scientists and the Creation of Black Labor Studies, 1890-1950. University of Virginia Press. p. 270. ISBN 9780813925509. 
  9. ^ Hollandsworth, James G. (2008). Portrait of a Scientific Racist: Alfred Holt Stone of Mississippi. LSU Press. p. 260. ISBN 9780807134832. 
  10. ^ Lloyd, Mark Frazier (2008-01-01). "100 Years: A Centennial History of the School of Social Policy & Practice". 
  11. ^ "Philadelphia Training School for Social Work - 1908 - Social Welfare History Project". Social Welfare History Project. 2011-06-15. Retrieved 2017-09-10. 
  12. ^ Hollandsworth, James G. (2008). Portrait of a Scientific Racist: Alfred Holt Stone of Mississippi. LSU Press. p. 260. ISBN 9780807134832. 
  13. ^ Degler, Carl N. (1992-11-05). In Search of Human Nature: The Decline and Revival of Darwinism in American Social Thought. Oxford University Press. pp. 85–7. ISBN 9780199729012.