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Ross, Dorothy (1936–) - U.S. Intellectual History

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Dorothy Ross was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on August 13, 1936, of Russian-Jewish ancestry. Her father worked in sales; her mother was a secretary and homemaker. Ross attended public schools through high school in Milwaukee. Among her early influences Ross counts her parents, who had great respect for education and encouraged her efforts. Their own immigrant status and, ironically, their desire to forget their old-world past whet young Dorothy’s appetite for learning about the past. Her parents were also politically conscious and encouraged the same in her. Growing up during World War II and the McCarthy era in the United States also encouraged her knowledge of and attention to political matters. Ross came to history through an interest in journalism and politics. In high school she only studied United States history and found it “virtually incomprehensible.”

Ross attended Smith College and discovered an affinity for the study of history through inspirational faculty: Sidney Packard, through a western civilization course, opened the door to her; both Donald Sheehan and Arthur Mann confirmed her growing interest in U.S. history; and Elizabeth Koffka, who taught European intellectual history, taught her that it was possible for a passionate woman to be passionate about ideas. Ross earned the Smith College History Prize and graduated magna cum laude in 1958.

She attended Columbia University, earning a master’s degree in 1959 and a Ph.D. in 1965. Ross was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow from 1958 to 1959, a Columbia University President’s Fellow from 1960 to 1961, and a Social Science Research Council Pre-doctoral Fellow from 1962 to 1964. Since completing her doctorate she has received several additional grants and fellowships, including those from the National Science Foundation and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. In 1993 she was elected to the Society of American Historians.

Professor Ross accepted a position as lecturer at Hunter College in the Fall Page 190  of 1965, then a position as Fellow in History and Psychiatry at Cornell University Medical College, Payne Whitney Clinic, in New York, where she worked from 1965 through 1967. She was a research associate in the Department of Psychology at George Washington University from 1967 through 1968. In 1971, Ross worked as professorial lecturer in History at George Washington University then accepted a position as special assistant to the Committee on Women Historians of the American Historical Association; she stayed in this position until 1972. Dr. Ross’s next appointment was at Princeton University, where she was assistant professor from 1972 to 1978. In the spring of 1977 she also served as special assistant to the Secretary, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. From 1978 to 1990, she was associate professor and professor of History at the University of Virginia, and since 1990 has been Arthur O. Lovejoy Professor of History at Johns Hopkins University.

Dorothy Ross is the author or editor of three books and more than twenty scholarly articles. Her first book, G. Stanley Hall: The Psychologist as Prophet (1972), introduced Ross’s work on the history of social thought and the human sciences. Her next work, The Origins of American Social Science (1991), surveys the early development of the disciplines of economics, sociology, political science, and history. It is, Robert Westbrook writes, “a marvelously orchestrated story” that raises the stakes on issues concerning historians of the social sciences.

Aside from her children and her publications, according to Ross, her most important accomplishment has been to help open the historical profession to women. As the first assistant to the Committee on the Status of Women of the American Historical Association, she inaugurated the first job roster for women and the first institutional efforts on the part of the AHA to reverse a long history of discrimination. Ross takes pride as well in the undergraduate and graduate students she has taught who are now themselves devotees of history. She also serves as a consultant to the President’s Science Advisory Council Panel on Youth and on committees for the Social Science Research Council, the American Historical Association, the National Science Foundation, the Organization of American Historians, and the Carter G. Woodson Institute of Afro-American and African Studies. Her other contributions include serving as editor, with Kenneth J. Cmiel, of the Johns Hopkins University Press series, New Studies in American Intellectual and Cultural History; serving as advisory editor of Isis; and serving as a member of the Board of Editors of the Journal of the History of Ideas .

Dorothy Ross is married to Stanford G. Ross. They have two children: John Nathan, born in 1965, and Ellen Sarah, born in 1967. Ross has no grandchildren, “yet.” She is interested in many areas of history, philosophy, literature, politics, social science, and science. Outside of academic interests, she enjoys reading, tennis, travel, and yoga.

Ross, John (1563–1607) - BIOGRAPHY, CRITICAL RECEPTION [next] [back] Ross, Diana (1944–)

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over 7 years ago

This bio is outdate. Please contact me for updated information.
Dorothy Ross

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3 months ago

Professor Ross's The Origins of American Social Science (1991) served as an invaluable source for my book on Charles Horton Cooley (Charles Horton Cooley: Imagining Social Reality (2006)) for it aided in placing him in the context of the history of the social sciences in the United States, I think the reason is that along with the vast material and sources she mastered, she apparently read understood, and competently, that is, insightfully placed Cooley in the stream of U.S. social science history. My only regret is that I haven't publicly complimented her sooner.