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PENN BIOGRAPHIES

Edward Digby Baltzell (1915-1996)

University Affiliation:
  • B. Econ. 1939
  • Professor of Sociology
  • Director of the Office for Foreign Students
  • Recipient of the Alumni Award of Merit
Biographical Summary:
  • President of International House
  • Originator of the term "WASP"

 

In 1939, Edward Digby Baltzell received his Bachelor of Science degree from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Three years later, he enlisted in the United States Navy and served as an aviator in the South Pacific from 1942 to 1945. After World War II he earned his doctorate in 1952 from Columbia University. From 1947 to 1986 he was a professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. He was a member of the American Sociological Society, the American Studies Association and the Eastern Sociological Society, and an authority on American class structure: he coined the term "WASP" or white anglo-saxon protestant.

From 1954 to 1959, he was the Director of the Office for Foreign Students, following a year's service by an acting director, Esther Leeds. During that period, from 1957-1958, Baltzell was the President of International House and he was also the former assistant director of the Institute for Humanistic Studies for Executives, working with Dr. William Rex Crawford, the former director of the Office for Foreign Students.

In 1967-1968, he was a Danforth Fellow of the Society for Religion in Higher Education at Princeton Theological Seminary. He held a Charles Warren Research Fellowship at Harvard from 1972-1973, and was a Hardy Chair Lecturer at Hartwick College in 1975. In 1981, he received the Alumni Award of Merit. Eight years later he was awarded an Honorary Degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, which was conferred on 22 May 1989 by the Board of Trustees at the University of Pennsylvania. He was awarded a second Honorary Degree, Doctor of Humane Letters by Kenyon College three years later, on May 17, 1992.

His widely read books are Protestant Establishment: Aristocracy and Caste in America (1964 - in this book the term "WASP" was coined), Puritan Boston and Quaker Philadelphia: Two Protestant Ethics and Spirit of Class Authority and Leadership (1979) and Philadelphia Gentlemen: The Making of a National Upper Class (1979). He also published many scholarly articles.

 

1965 photograph of Edward Digby Baltzell

 

 

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RELATED LINKS:

Edward Digby Baltzell Papers