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One of the earliest sociological investigators to couple raw survey data with the human perspective behind it was John James McCook. An Episcopal minister in Connecticut, he is best remembered for his detailed studies into the lives of alcoholics and vagrants and his consequent push to achieve real reforms in legislation and attitude to help this forgotten segment of humanity during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Researchers in sociology, social history, and psychology, as well as anyone intent on studying the problems of the urban poor and socially outcast, will garner the benefits of McCook's exhaustive survey methods and his fascination with the human stories behind the numbers. This collection presents not merely the tabulated data, but also tells the stories of the people who make up the statistics and provides a record of McCook's successes at effecting solutions to the problems he uncovered through his research.
Included in the collection, which is carefully organized into thirteen segments, are McCook's speeches, lectures, sermons, the questionaires and tabulations from his surveys, his notebooks and reference materials, newspaper clippings, and copies of McCook's articles and pamphlets as well as miscellaneous correspondence. Of special interest to students investigating the history of urban development, ethnic groups, penal history, and social reform are the six series dealing with specific subject areas studied by McCook. The complete file of letters exchanged between William W. Aspinwall, a self-proclaimed tramp, and McCook offer extraordinary insight into the motivations of the displaced person during this period.
McCook's life as recorded through his papers provides an interesting portrait of how a distinguished professor at Trinity College became involved in active, remedial ways with a class of people most would rather ignore.