Edward Franklin Frazier

Sociologist, Educator, Author, Scholar


Edward Franklin Frazier was born September 24, 1894 in Baltimore, Maryland. Upon his graduation from Colored High School, Baltimore (June 1912), he was awarded, the School’s annual scholarship to Howard University. He was an excellent scholar, pursuing Latin, Greek, German and mathematics, who found time to participate in extracurricular activities involving drama, political science, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Intercollegiate Socialist Society. His leadership skills were evidenced in his class presidencies of 1915 and 1916.

On graduation from Howard in 1916, Frazier began a teaching career, experiencing high schools in Alabama, Georgia, Virginia and Maryland. During this time he published an anti-war pamphlet entitled God and War. In 1919 he accepted a fellowship to Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts to pursue graduate study, and on completion of his thesis “New Currents of Thought among the Colored People of America”  graduated with a Master’s degree in sociology in 1920. 

In 1920 Frazier became a research fellow at the New York School of Social Work. From 1921 to 1922, he traveled to Denmark on an American Scandinavian Foundation Fellowship, and on his return, he accepted a position at Morehouse College, Atlanta, Georgia. The Morehouse position allowed him to combine the teaching of sociology with the direction of the Atlanta School of Social Work. It was during his Morehouse tenure that Frazier began his writings on the Negro family. His controversial publication “The Pathology of Race Prejudice” in Forum(June 1927) forced him to leave Morehouse.

Poster from Office of War Information. Domestic Operations Branch. News Bureau, 1943

He later received a fellowship from the University of Chicago and began pursuit of a doctoral program in 1927. According to G. Franklin Edwards in his “Introduction” to E. Franklin Frazier on Race Relations (1968), it was during his study at Chicago where he received his doctoral degree in sociology in 1931, that “Frazier became thoroughly socialized into what later came to be called the ‘Chicago School of Sociology’.” His doctoral dissertation was later published as The Negro Family in Chicago.

Frazier taught at Fisk University 1929-1931 while  a doctoral student at the University of Chicago working on his dissertation, and he continued at Fisk beyond that date until 1934 when he assumed the directorship of Howard University’s Department of Sociology. He remained an active Director of the Department until 1959, after which he became Professor Emeritus of the Department of Sociology and the African Studies Program. Frazier was elected President of the American Sociological Association in 1948 and received the Association’s MacIver Award for his contributions in the field of sociology.

Frazier was a prolific writer, producing some nine books (published in varying translations and editions) and over one hundred articles and essays. Anthony M. Platt in his article “Racism in Academia” published in the Monthly Review(September 1990) writes “His [Frazier] 1949 textbook The Negro in the United States was the first of its kind, a challenge to conventional ‘social problems’ texts… His …  Race and Culture Contacts in the Modern World, for example was on the cutting edge of progressive scholarship with its effort to understand the political economy  of racism in a global context.  His Black Bourgeoisie(1957)…was a savage demystification of the ‘myth of Negro business’.” A significant work, Negro Youth at the Crossways: Their Personality Development in the Middle States (1940) attempts to construct profiles of Negro youth and analyze socialization influences in the cities of Washington , D.C., and Louisville, Kentucky.

Between 1951 and 1953, he served with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), traveling to Paris, Africa and the Middle East. During this period, he continued his writing, focusing on the struggle of people of Africa and African descent to achieve equality, and on religion. His last book The Negro Church in America was published posthumously in 1964.

Frazier died on May 17, 1962. He has been ranked among the top African Americans for his influence of institutions and practices to accept the demands by African Americans for economic, political and social equality in American life. It is for his work and for his contributions to Howard University that the Howard University School of Social Work has created in his honor the E. Franklin Frazier Research Center (official inauguration May 24, 2000).

In the bibliography which follows, attempt has been made to include all titles published by Frazier, but not the varying translations and/or editions and reprints which may exist. The works about Frazier are necessarily selected. Within the given headings, arrangement of the publications is alphabetical by title. For the convenience of persons who may use this as a working bibliography, call numbers indicating location of the items in the Howard University Libraries System (Divinity, Founders, Social Work, Auxiliary Collection) and the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center (MSRC) have been provided. Reproductions of many of Frazier’s essays and journal articles are available in The Moorland-Spingarn Research Center.


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