William H. Sewell

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William H. Sewell

William Hamilton Sewell (November 27, 1909 – June 24, 2001) was a United States sociologist and the Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin–Madison from 1967-1968. He is the father of William H. Sewell, Jr..


William Sewell was born on November 27, 1909, in Perrinton, Michigan. He attended the Michigan State University where he received his BA in 1933 and his MA in 1934, both in sociology. He then attended the University of Minnesota, where he received his PhD in sociology in 1939. He briefly taught at Michigan State and Oklahoma State before he became a professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1946, where he stayed until becoming the chancellor in 1967.

Sewell was known for his research in the sociology of inequality, especially in schooling, as well as his empirical approach to sociology.

William H. Sewell became Chancellor of the Madison campus in 1967, in the midst of the Vietnam War and student protests. After a tough year due to the protesting, in June 1968, he resigned the Chancellorship and returned to research and teaching. In 1971 Sewell was served as the President of the American Sociological Association.

Sewell died in Madison, Wisconsin in 2001.

Father of William H. Sewell, III[edit]

Chancellor Sewell is also known as the father of another sociologist William H. Sewell, Jr. The younger Sewell is now Frank P. Hixon Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Political Science and History at the University of Chicago and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The younger Sewell serves on the Board of Advisors of the Institute for Advanced Study and was formerly a professor of sociology and history at the University of Michigan. William H. Sewell III is known for promoting anthropological concepts in sociology, for studies of the French revolution, the French labor history, and the occupational sociology of Marseilles.

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Academic offices
Preceded by
Robben Wright Fleming
Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin–Madison
Succeeded by
Bryant Kearl