This website is devoted to making the history of

the Rural Sociological Society and rural sociology more accessible.


Additions and suggestions are always welcome!






How the Rural Sociological Society Began






“The Rural Sociological Society (RSS) was officially established on December 29th, 1937. 


Before then, those interested in the discipline met as the Rural Sociology Section of the American Sociological

Society, which later became the American Sociological Association. 


 The meeting at which formation of the RSS was approved had not started with that in mind. 


Rather, a committee of section members appointed previously presented a report that supported continued association

with the parent organization, although one of the five members submitted a minority report calling for separation. 


 After substantial discussion, a vote to establish a separate organization carried. 


That same day, a provisional constitution and by-laws were established by the founding RSS members;

they still guide activities, although both have been amended through the years as membership and issues have changed.”



-- Willis Goudy, RSS Historian 2004-2009

 Excerpt from: "Establishing the Rural Sociological." The Rural Sociologist. 2006. 26(3):39






                                                  The First Year of the Rural Sociological Society

                                                                Source: Minutes published in Rural Sociology.



In the Provisional Constitution adopted during the meeting of the Rural Sociology Section of the American Sociological Society at the

Claridge Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey (December 1937), the RSS was initially named the Rural Sociological Society of America.


At the first Annual Meeting of the Rural Sociological Society in Detroit, Michigan (December 1938), Dwight Sanderson gave the first

Presidential Address and the Constitution for the Rural Sociological Society was adopted. At this meeting, Carl C. Taylor was elected

the second president of the RSS.



First Officers of RSS (Elected: December 1937)

President: Dwight Sanderson (Cornell University)

Vice President: John H. Kolb (University of Wisconsin)

Secretary-Treasurer: T. Lynn Smith (Louisiana State University)

Additional Members of the Executive Committee:

        C. E. Lively (Ohio State University)

        Carl C. Taylor (Division of Farm Population and Rural Life, BAE, USDA)

Committee Appointments  (Appointed: December 1937)


Committee on Research

C. Horace Hamilton, Chair (Texas A&M College)

Harold F. Dorn ([Maryland])

N. L. Whetten (Connecticut State College)


Committee on Teaching

Wilson Gee, Chair (University of Virginia)

O. D. Duncan (Oklahoma A&M College)

C. R. Hoffer (Michigan State College)


Committee on Extension

J. B. Schmidt, Chair (Ohio State University)

Mary E. Duthie (Cornell University)

Theo. Vaughan ([University of Kentucky?])


Rural Sociological Monographs

T. Lynn Smith, Editor (Louisiana State University)

Paul Landis, Advisory Editor (State College of Washington)

Conrad Taeuber, Advisory Editor ([Maryland])


Rural Sociology (journal): (Editors for Vol. 3, Issue 1, 1938)


Board of Editors:

Lowry Nelson, Editor (University of Minnesota)

T. Lynn Smith, Managing Editor (Louisiana State University)

John H. Kolb, Associate Editor (University of Wisconsin)

C. E. Lively, Associate Editor (Ohio State University)

Dwight Sanderson, Associate Editor (Cornell University)

Carle C. Zimmerman, Associate Editor (Harvard University)



Additional Resources

Holik, John S. and Edward W. Hassinger. 1986a. “The Rural Sociological Society: Its Beginnings.” The Rural Sociologist. 6(5):331-340.

Holik, John S. and Edward W. Hassinger. 1986b. “The RSS: Coming to Formalization.”  The Rural Sociologist. 6(6):407-420.





Please send suggestions, ideas, or changes to:


Julie N. Zimmerman

RSS Historian

Professor, Rural Sociology

Dept. of Community and Leadership Development, University of Kentucky


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