books and publications

Turning to the Social Sciences

It’s not clear at what point Selskar Gunn realized that his professional future within the Organization lay with the social sciences. Nor whether he was actively encouraged to move in that direction, and if so, by whom and when. The most obvious candidate, as far as influence is concerned, is George Vincent, who was trained as a sociologist. As noted earlier, Vincent co-authored a text-book on sociology in which he presented sociology as the discipline best suited for the study of a society.

Typical of his view on society was his address “Countryside and Nation,” given in 1917 as President of the American Sociological Society, in which he discussed the economic and social conditions of America’s farms and rural areas. After a robust and dynamic look at the many problems there present, he proposed that greater efficiency was needed, somewhat along the lines of modern industry, but to be sought by means of cooperatively owned farms. But it “was not the American way to trust wholly to government action.” Using a theme that Gunn had already pursued in the field of public health, he called for “individuals and voluntary associations (to be) enlisted in the cause of the countryside.” It is difficult to imagine that Vincent did not find in Gunn a ready disciple, one who could think in holistic terms while keeping in mind the need to act in a manner suitable to local social, economic and political conditions.

Gunn first toyed with agriculture as his new point of departure, especially, as we shall see, given Stampar’s interest in it. To this was added the new stimulus of the social sciences which emerged from his exposure to the work of the Memorial. Almost from his first contacts with Beardsley Ruml and his colleagues Gunn thought of the possibility of a cooperative program. After a brief discussion with Lawrence Frank, who visited Paris in November 1927, he wrote Vincent:

I can see the necessity of the closest type of cooperation between the Foundation and the LSHM (Memorial) people. I think it would be a most interesting experiment for us all if we could work out a program of the Foundation, the IEB and LSHM for a certain country… I feel sure that you will be interested in this idea.

He hoped to be able to explore this possibility later with Augustus Trowbridge (IEB responsible officer in Paris Office) and Lawrence Frank adding that it was a pity that Charles Merriam was ill and would probably not come to Paris as hoped for.

So who were Lawrence Frank and Charles Merriam?

Lawrence Frank (1890-1968) studied under John Dewey at Columbia University where he received his bachelor’s degree in economics in 1912. From 1920 to 1922 he served as a business manager for the New School of Social research. In 1923 he joined the Memorial as an assistant to Ruml where he worked until the Memorial was dissolved in 1929. During those years he was responsible for child welfare and human development programs. Later on he became such an advocate of the cause of the child that he is often referred to as the originator of the child development movement in America. While working with the Memorial he prepared a paper on the “Status of Social Science in the United States,” in which he concluded that something new was needed because what he saw was disassociated with any real problems facing the American society and thus void of any utility.

Charles Merriam (1874-1953) studied in Berlin in 1899-1900 before moving to Chicago to teach political science. At the request of the reform-oriented City Club of Chicago he was asked to conduct a study of municipal revenues which he did in 1905. This led him to being appointed to the Chicago Harbor Commission where he became familiar with issues of urban planning. He ran for alderman and won on the Republican ticket in 1909. With the encouragement and financing of Julius Rosenwald he ran for Mayor of Chicago in 1911 but lost. However, he returned as alderman from 1913 to 1917 but lost again in 1919 at which point he quit politics returning full-time to his academic career.

As chairman of the department of Political Science and president of the American Political Science Association, Merriam played a key role in the establishment of the Social Science Research Council in 1923. There he met Ruml whose Memorial contributed generously to the work of the Council. The Memorial also contributed importantly both to Merriam’s political science research projects as well as the Local Community Research Committee which supported the social sciences at the University of Chicago from 1923 to 1929. Like Frank, Merriam was critical of the tendency of social research to describe abstract notions with little recourse to the real world. He favored an organized and conscious scientific approach to the study of human behavior using the tools of empirical and policy-oriented analysis especially those favorable to what today would be classified as a multi-disciplinary approach.

Merriam carried out a review on the status of the social sciences in Europe in 1926. It does not seem that he met Gunn on this occasion. That same year Ruml offered him the job in Paris as director for social sciences in Europe for the Memorial. Merriam at first accepted but his stomach ulcer worsened to such a degree that by October 1927 he felt he could no longer accept, so the meeting that Gunn had hoped to arrange with him and Frank did not take place.

Ruml retired as Director when the Memorial was merged with the Foundation in 1928 but became instead the director of the Spelman Fund, which was created to carry out programs which didn’t seem to fit the program of the Foundation at the time the Memorial was consolidated with the Foundation. (Fosdick, p206) A Social Sciences Division was established at the Foundation and Edmund E. Day, professor of economics at Harvard, was asked to take over as its Director. (Fosdick p199) Day knew Merriam well and continued to press him to come to Europe. Finally, he accepted a six-month assignment to begin in April 1929.

Meanwhile, Gunn, as Vice-President, started to travel around Europe to make contact with important people in fields other than public health. However, in January 1929 he wrote Vincent: “I feel it would probably not be desirable for me to travel very much and make contacts with the men in the fields of Natural Sciences and Social Sciences until later on. I had thought the best way would be to travel with Mason or Day, or their representatives when they come here. It might cause some confusion if I floated around too much alone at this stage of the reorganization.” (January 8, 1929)

The arrival of Merriam in the Paris office proved to be of great importance for Gunn. Merriam stayed at Gunn’s apartment (51, Boulevard Murat) for much of the time that he spent there, which in the end was only a few months instead of the six months that had been agreed to. He used his time to meet with a variety of people involved in this social sciences in one capacity or another. In one report back to Day he indicated that he had “turned over to Professor Gunn the agenda of the Social Sciences Research Council and also the report of the Chicago Committee on ‘Local Community Research’, which I thought would be useful in giving a more concrete picture of what we are trying to do in this field in the United States” (May 27, 1929)

Day visited the Paris office in June 1929. Numerous meetings were held in which Gunn participated along with Merriam. On one occasion, for example, they met with Felkin, an “important assistant” of Sir Arthur Saltar of the League of Nations, to discuss a number of items including the Institute of International Studies in Geneva. There was a “general agreement that while this Institute started out pretty well, it has not so far developed – need of more concentrated direction is bought out – institute is now being run by Rappard and Mantoux, neither of whom are able to give full time to the work.” (June 11, 1929)

Of more immediate importance was a general conference held in the office where Gregg, Strode and CAB joined. Gunn’s diary summarized it as follows:

General conference with regard to possible future programs in the social sciences which might touch the program of the IHD – special consideration given to the request of Dr. Stampar for fellowships in the social sciences to persons to be connected with the Public Health Service of Yugoslavia – general agreement as to the desirability of broadening public health programs to include certain of the social sciences – EED (Day) very much interested, but stated that perhaps the type of cooperation desired by Stampar would come from the Spelman Fund (SF) rather than from the SS. (June 10, 1929)

Ruml was coming to Europe in a few weeks so they decided to wait for him to get his opinion on what was best to do with the proposal from Stampar. Vincent too was expected. Merriam left on June 15th. Gunn took him to the station to see him off, noting in his diary that “everybody regrets CHM’s departure.”

Gunn met with Vincent, Day and Ruml in early July. They agreed that the “subject was worthy of consideration and that there seems to exist an opportunity for team play within the RF and perhaps with the SF – agreed that it seems reasonable that such a type of activity falls more directly within the program of the SF than the RF – BR will take the matter up with his board on his return to New York.” (July 2, 1929)

The idea of using the umbrella of public administration to bring together some of the Foundation’s programs was not a new one. Ruml, nearly 4 years earlier, had made such a proposal in a short memorandum to Fosdick. Rather than placing all of the Foundation’s work under the rubric of ‘advancement of knowledge’ Ruml’s proposal listed it along side four other administrative headings. He diagrammed it like this:


Rockefeller Foundation


Advancement of Knowledge      Professional Education

                    Natural Science                                    Medicine

Humanities and Arts                             Law

                    Social Sciences                                    Business

                                                                                Social Welfare


International Education Board    “Public Administration Board”

                    Elementary education                           Health

Secondary education                            Public welfare, including


                    College education                                Public works

                    Adult education                                   Finance

                    Vocational education


Informal Committee

(All good things

otherwise unprovided for.)


He proposed the liquidation of the Memorial. He envisaged the “so-called ‘Public Administration Board'” as being composed “specially selected Trustees” resulting from a “merging of the Foundation’s public health work and the Memorial’s public welfare activities.” He concluded his short memorandum with “This program or any like it would take a decade to work out, I suppose. I feel presumptuous in putting this on paper at all, and, of course, I would concede the possibility that it might be desirable to modify a detail here and there!!!!”

It’s not likely that Gunn ever saw this proposal but Ruml must certainly have discussed it at some point especially when Gunn became Vice-President and had the luxury of thinking beyond public health.

An earlier opportunity to promote pursuing public administration in Yugoslavia came in August 1929 when Arthur D. Woods (1870-1942), Chairman of the Spelman Fund, visited Paris. By that point Merriam, with Ruml’s support, had outlined a European program in Public Administration. Woods was wary of the subject, no doubt having memories of the abortive efforts of the RF in the field of industrial relations when it was newly established. Fosdick, who was on the Board of Trustees of Spelman Fund, also felt that it was premature to develop such a program in Europe. (Saunier) Fosdick and Woods knew each other from New York City where they were both affiliated with the police department in the early 1910s. (Confirm)

It was around this time that Gunn was listed as a potential candidate for a post at MIT that was earmarked for the position of President!  When Rockefeller Jr. heard of this he wrote Vincent to tell him how disturbed he was by the prospect of losing Gunn, adding, “of course, we ought not to stand in the way of Mr. Gunn’s doing the best thing for himself. On the other hand, I fancy from what I have heard you say of him that it would be difficult to fill his place..” (November 29, 1929)

Mason was asked by MIT to provide biographical information concerning Gunn. He sent them the material that was in Who’s Who in America for 1928-1929 and the American Men of Science, 1927, adding that “the number of positions which he has held, with a variety of activities, is an indication of his versatility.” He also added that Gunn was “more an administrator than a scientist… He has shown good judgment consistently in decision, is very tactful, and is viewed with entire confidence as Vice President and a representative of the Rockefeller Foundation in Paris. In this capacity he has been entrusted with many difficult negotiations, in which a successful conclusion depended upon a great deal of insight into the attitudes of mind of widely varying groups of people and tactful and forceful management. His work has been uniformly successful. His personality is pleasant.” (December 5, 1929)

In October 1929, when on an extended visit to the States, Gunn discussed his personal plans with Vincent whose diary entry recorded the meeting as follows:

GEV urges SMG to make the RF work a career – thinks arrangements for daughter to attend Amer. sch. could be fitted in with SMG’s visits to U.S. – every 3 yrs. there would be a longer period of leave – seems possible to combine residence in France with ed. of daughter in Amer. sch., etc. (October 29, 1929)

No doubt contributing to Vincent’s desire to hold on to Gunn was the positive impact that Gunn had on the Paris office. When Vincent lunched with Gregg in Paris he learned that “the delegation of authority to the Paris office has had an excellent effect on morale and sense of responsibility.” (July 3, 1929) ADD SOMETHING FROM WEAVER ORAL HISTORY

Did the prospect of losing Gunn lead to his being asked to assume the position of head of the Social Science program in Europe? Difficult to judge. In any case, in a ‘personal’ letter to Gunn in February 1930 Day “enthusiastically” welcomed this possibility, while referring to “recent correspondence” between Mason and Gunn to this effect and their own discussions of this possibility in 1929. At the same time he informed Gunn that Merriam was willing to come to Paris again for several months, first for him to advise Ruml on “possibilities of a European program in public administration” and secondly to work on any “interesting possibilities” for the Foundation. If Gunn did not accept his offer to take on the Social Science’s position in Europe, Merriam’s presence would provide “assurances for the development of our program which I should personally be glad to have.” (February 24, 1930)

Just how serious Merriam’s intent to spend several months in Europe in 1930 is difficult to judge as he had become deeply involved in an initiative that grew out of a dinner with the newly elected President Herbert Hoover along with several other prominent American social scientists to discuss “doing something in a large way in fields …. touching human welfare.” Hoover invited Merriam and the others to constitute a Research Committee on Social Trends. This soon led to a member of the White House staff contacting Vincent urging the Foundation to support this project as part of a “programme of scientific research into fundamental phases of social relations … to produce a rounded and explicit picture of the whole American social scene…” Day was favorable leading his division to provide financial support for research, conferences, travel, and publications. As well, Frank, who had moved from the Memorial to the General Education Board when the latter was dismantled, received a two-year fully paid leave to work as a researcher for the committee. (Sealander, p237-8)

Gunn had met with Ruml and Day during his visit to the States in November 1929 to discuss the proposed program in Yugoslavia for fellowships in the Social Sciences. It was decided that the subject should be brought up at a Staff Conference for wider consideration. (November 8, 1929) He also met with Day to discuss a proposed program in Public Administration for Yugoslavia; Day thought that it was “rather doubtful” that the Spelman Fund would be interested in this kind of program. But Mason expressed interest while recognizing  that the “general implications in beginning work of this character and their bearing on RF policies would have to be carefully considered.” (November 15, 1929) A few days later Gunn brought the subject up at a luncheon with Fosdick and Woods. This time Woods reacted positively, going so far as to say that such a program in Yugoslavia was “relatively simple” and probably could be carried out “without leading to extensive program in public administration in its manifold aspects.” (November 19, 1929)

Yugoslavia was not the only potential project in Europe that Gunn was exploring that would take him outside the domain of public health as being developed by Russell but it was by far the most important one. At first, when the possibility of a new Agriculture Division was under consideration, Gunn actively pursued the subject with Stampar during his December 1928 visit, which from his diary entry, can be seen to already reflect the potential social science dimension of such work:

S. (Stampar) again outlined his ideas with regard to the broadening out of his health programs with the idea that they will take in other activities, particularly in the agricultural fields – he is very anxious to have fellowships for veterinarians, agronomists and others so that he can make welfare surveys and later adopt programs on broader lines for the rural regions …

S. anticipates a fusion of the Ministries of Public Health and Social Politics – if this comes about there will be a great need of competent personnel in the sociological disciplines. (December 20, 1928)… He wants the aid of the RF, through its Division of Social Sciences…

On his next visit to Belgrade in February 1929 Gunn advised Stampar not to apply for fellowships from the Social Sciences Division until he had a chance to discuss the matter with Day. On this short visit Gunn found Stampar to be “gloomy” on his arrival but “bucked up” by the end of his visit. Stampar was facing considerable political opposition at the time and had many reasons to be gloomy. By May, Rajchman told Gunn how concerned he was about Stampar’s “physical and mental health, particularly the latter – feels that S. is on the edge of a nervous breakdown…” (May 17, 1929) Gunn also learned about Rajchman’s plans to go to China in October but that he “has no preconceived ideas” and doubts as to whether or not “anything effective could now be accomplished through the League.” (May 17, 1929)

On his next visit to Belgrade (February, 1930) Gunn found Stampar still pessimistic about the political situation of Yugoslavia but “enthusiastic” concerning fellowships in the social sciences. As described in Gunn’s diary:

S. feels that merely developing public health services is only a partial solution of the various problems confronting each community – S. is anxious to train men in the social sciences, particularly along lines of rural life – has in mind the creation of two centres for such activities, one in Croatia at Zagreb, and another in Macedonia at Skoplje – his idea is two-fold: one, to have the trained men work part of their time in the Schools of Public Health at Zagreb and Skoplje, and, second, to work out alongside of the health authorities programs of general welfare which would be developed as research demonstrations in communities located at convenient places – the fundamental idea would be to attempt to develop a form of rural government which would take into consideration all the social needs of the communities.. (February 10, 1930)

Within a month of his return to Paris, Gunn responded favorably to Day’s letter of February 24th indicating that he had written to Mason “to the effect that if you and he are still of the same opinion, I am willing to accept the position as Associate Director in the Social Sciences in Europe.” He also welcomed Merriam’s visit hoping that he could spend “some considerable time in Paris,” adding, “personally, I like him very much” and “hope (that) you can arrange to have him come and stay as long as possible.” However, he noted that he didn’t “pretend to understand him always as he seems to hold back and not always give his full opinions.” (March 12, 1930)

While Stampar had reason to be optimistic regarding fellowships in the social sciences, the new situation of the IHD had led to a “restricted” number of fellowships for Yugoslavia. Gunn made sure that this point was noted in his diary when Stampar visited Paris in March, 1930, “S. points out the desirability of the IHD continuing to aid the Public Health Services of Yugoslavia even in a small way for some years to come – the moral effect of our continued cooperation enormous – points out that we have already spend large sums of money in Yugoslavia and that continued cooperation for a period of years will go a long way towards insuring stability and permanency of the activities we have aided.” (March 21, 1930)

Both Ruml and Merriam came to Paris for discussions in May, 1930. Stampar was in town as well. They met with Gunn to consider the situation in Yugoslavia with the aim of developing in certain areas “a different form of public administration” which would be based on “thorough studies made by Yugoslav men after a fellowship period.” Ruml indicated that a letter from the Ministries of Agriculture, Public Instruction and Public Welfare would be required, something that Stampar believed would be “easy to obtain.” Stampar was to prepare a proposal which would then be submitted to the Executive Committee of the Spelman Fund, i.e. Ruml, Fosdick and Woods (CONFIRM). WHAT HAPPENED TO THIS PROPOSAL???

Ruml reported to Gunn on the progress being made by a public administration project that the Fund was supporting in the County of Cambridgeshire, England. He suggested that Henry Morris visit Yugoslavia to pass on some of their experience to Stampar and his colleagues. Morris was Secretary of Education  for Cambridgeshire and a very prominent figure in the field of rural education and development.

Mason made his first visit to the Paris Office in his capacity as President of the Foundation in May 1930. Just after meeting with Ruml, Gunn met with him and obtained a carte blanche regarding the hiring of consultants in Europe on projects in the social sciences and humanities. (May 26, 1930)

Gunn kept a careful account of all of his discussions with Ruml and Merriam. From these one learns of the various possibilities that Ruml had explored in Europe which he expected Gunn to keep an eye on. Ruml was particularly “enthusiastic” about his visit to Berlin with Merriam where they met with a private organization of representatives of the German cities to learn of their experiences in “bringing about better government in the communities.” He felt that their experience could be “applicable and beneficial in the USA.” The work of Beauvais and others at the Jean Jacques Rousseau Institute in Geneva also deserved careful attention. (June 23, 1930)

The new orientation of the Foundation, as seen in the last chapter, was the advancement of knowledge. Although it had been developed in early 1929 it was not well advertised. Only in May 1930 did Rockefeller Jr. release a short statement in which he declared:

The Foundation is primarily interested in the advancement rather than the diffusion of knowledge. That means that the Foundation is concerned with research rather than with education; that, in general, it deals with universities and research institutes rather than with colleges. The field of the Foundation is narrowed still further by its emphasis on pure rather than applied research.

However, the Social Sciences were exempted from this narrowing of focus. Instead, because research in the Social Sciences was “relatively young,” the Foundation could be expected to aid research “which is directly applied to social education and social problems.” No indication was given as to which social problems the Foundation might be expected to explore. This was one of the key subjects discussed at a special meeting organized at Princeton in October 1930 with the Trustees of the Foundation.

The meeting itself lasted 3 days and was designed, as indicated by Mason, to be provide an opportunity for “free and informal discussion.” Fosdick acted as Chairman for all sessions.

Each of the Foundation officers introduced their field. Russell was first followed by Gregg, who was “informally” appointed Director for Medical Sciences following his presentation, Pearce having died earlier that year. Then the Natural Sciences was presented by Spoehr; he was followed by Day who presented the Social Sciences. Tom Applegate presented the last program which was that of the Humanities. Two “special subjects” were discussed on the last day to be considered for “concentrated effort” – virus and virus disease and psychiatry.

In his introduction, Day followed the line that had already been well developed by Ruml at the Memorial. The social sciences presented problems that were “to some extent peculiar.” It lacked “the scientific tradition and the scientific habit of mind.” The laboratory of the social sciences “must be the field, must be social life itself… The only way to find out whether a certain thing about social phenomena is a tenable thesis is to try it out in a social situation and see whether you get results which give some authenticity to the findings.” Such a process he classified as “social control,” a concept that earlier social scientists, including Vincent, had identified to be of central importance for their work.

Field investigations had to be cultivated. But this had proved difficult for the Memorial to pursue. The universities that the Memorial had funded to date tended to approach the social domain much too academically. Economic theory, for example, had been “cultivated ad nauseum… in some directions through mere dialectic exercise. There has not been anywhere near the factual base necessary for fruitful work.”

Given the enormous scope of social phenomena some “principles of concentration” were needed. Although Day then went on to enumerate “four or five (such) fields by way of illustration,” it was clear that these were the fields that had been carefully selected for presentation: economic rationalization including industrial stability, international relations, personality development, community organization, and public administration. That the latter two fields were seen to overlap is suggested by the fact that he introduced the presentation to be made by Gunn while discussing community organization but then Gunn classified his proposal as dealing specifically with “research in public administration.”

Day noted that the ideas that Gunn was to present were ones “which he has long had in mind.” Before letting Gunn speak, Fosdick pointed out that this was the first time “that the claims of the social sciences have been presented at this Board.”

Gunn opened his remarks by noting that the new policy in Social Sciences opened up the possibility of a “cooperative program” between it and the IHD. In certain European countries, where the IHD had been operating, there was a “growing feeling that the time has come when governments should consider the possibility of elaborating more unified programs for countries.” Ministries operating on their own could not develop a coordinated program which would take into consideration of various social, economic, and political factors. Only by working together was there any chance for bringing about “a greater degree of wellbeing in the population covered.”

Since the private sector was far less developed in most European countries than in America, there was a greater chance that the persons engaged in the studies to be made would be directly connected with Government and this in turn “should mean that the possibilities of later on putting into effect the recommendations of the experts would be greatly enhanced and that the program adopted would be truly those of the Government and not pious wishes on the part of the private agency.”

The model was clear and straight forward. The Foundation would grant fellowships to “natives of the countries chosen for experiment.” They would study in other countries in fields such as rural economics and rural sociology and public finance. They would be supervised by competent officers of the Foundation but “the actual work of making the studies would be in the hands of the local people.”

Gunn emphasized that the program was “entirely experimental in character.” It would have a modest beginning. He indicated that Poland and Yugoslavia were thinking along these lines already. Some very promising consultations had already taken place in Yugoslavia. Gunn closed with an example drawn from Yugoslavia to illustrate the kind of problem that he imagined such studies becoming involved with:

Observation by the health experts brought out the fact that the difficulty in obtaining adequate funds for the public health work from local sources was largely due to the fact that epidemics of diseases in cattle were of such severity that the community suffered a very heavy financial loss. The diseases which caused such disasters are recognized as being preventable to a very large extent by the use of modern veterinary preventive medicine. It is obvious that in order to aid this community effectively in developing its public health work, steps must be taken to introduce the known methods of preventive and veterinary medicine.

Anson P. Stokes, a Board Member and educator and clergyman, wanted to know how such a program could be developed without it looking like some kind of “outside interference.” Gunn replied that already two countries had specifically asked for this type of aid. In fact, if the history of the IHD was any indication, the problem would be one of “warding off too many invitations from too many countries.”

Mason intervened at this point to indicate that there were opportunities of assistance which differed only in minor ways from the IHD’s normal activities:

I am thinking of a health center. Public health is perhaps the nucleus of the whole situation, but it goes beyond health in the sense of epidemiology, may include a dental clinic, may include weekly or bi-weekly clinics for all types of diseases, an interesting experiment in social medicine; it may include a recreation center, and the effort may involve sometimes the presence of lecturers on world economics and public welfare in general.

Although a bit incoherent, he had clearly grasped the excitement of Gunn’s proposal. While finding it difficult to “overestimate the enthusiasm” of such an effort, they were essentially “enlargements form the public health effort … (and) well worthy of very cautious experimentation.” It would liberalize “the thought of the International Health Division group.” Where the effort went outside the bounds of public health funds other than those of the IHD would be called upon.

One Board Member raised the question as to why it was the so many college graduates lacked a “scientific attitude.” Day replied that what was needed was a better organization of education in its earlier years. Another wanted to know the extent to which the program was essentially “humanitarian” as opposed to one that was concerned with accumulating a “regional (European) body of scientific knowledge.” Day replied by indicating that he saw the program more in terms of establishing a “different mode of treatment of social situations,” rather than the accumulation of data. Further questioning led Day to observe that perhaps he had “rather rationally assumed that the development of a more scientific approach to the social problems would yield a substantial humanitarian product.” In any case, it was clear that what Gunn had presented obviously had a humanitarian dimension but he preferred to conceive the program more in terms of learning better how the social sciences should approach social problems.

Only at the end of the discussion did Frederick Strauss, a Board Member whose term was coming to an end, speak out in rather emotional terms. He viewed the program that Day and Gunn had outlined “with a great deal of alarm,” adding “I am thoroughly frightened by it.” As one of the oldest members he could remember when anything that smacked of political controversy was to be carefully avoided. This program was “loaded with dynamite.” If the government of Yugoslavia welcomed the program it meant that the opposition opposed it. Experimenting with “foreign social problems” was fraught with great danger,” and could destroy “the other activities of the Foundation abroad… the very things that you mention here as the more immediate problems that might be advantageously studied and developed – international relations, industrial stabilization, rationalization, community organization, public administration – every one of these subjects just frighten me do death.”

Fosdick welcomed Strauss’s “delightful candor,” while reminding him that the Memorial had been engaged in questions of this kind for some six years without any “repercussions.” He did not anticipate any of the difficulties that Strauss was worried about. At that point, however, Ray Lyman Wilbur, Dean of the Stanford Medical School, joined in to indicate that he too thought that “going into the European countries any further… would be a question of dynamite, or whatever it is – it is something of that kind.” Ruml, who had not said a word throughout the discussion spoke up at that point to introduce some of the principles that the Memorial had adopted to avoid problems with “controversial questions.” These included: make no studies on your own account, don’t concentrate on particular research institutions, and make “no statement as to the problem to be studied or the personnel to be used or the method of attack.” Strauss was prompted to “soften some of the phraseology” that he had used. He was no longer frightened to death, just frightened! Fosdick reiterated a basic point that had been made earlier, namely, “we are going to enable other people and other institutions to make researches in these fields.”

Gunn closed the discussion with suitably soothing words. He told the story of how a program had been developed by the IHD for Bulgaria whose government at the time was believed to be the most stable in Europe. The government fell just when the Board adopted the program. Embree was alarmed, saying to Gunn, “you have shut us out of Bulgaria. How can you ever go back?” But back he went where he was met at the station with bouquets of flowers by the representatives of the new government. The relationship that had been developed between the IHD and Bulgaria and its people was strong enough to withstand the change.

Despite the fact that this new proposal was building on the back of what the IHD had achieved, no one chose to ask Russell what he thought of Gunn’s proposal. Being about as far away from the social sciences as a public health man could be, he knew enough to remain quiet. I suspect that had he been asked he would have replied in a supportive manner but that deep down he would have been full of strong doubts. It probably would have been too much to ask of a solid laboratory man to place reliance on the social sciences, especially as they were still struggling to demonstrate their scientific credentials.

As it was, had Russell raised any doubts of the feasibility of Gunn’s proposal, he would have been proven right. It proved impossible to move in the direction that Gunn had outlined. To begin with, Stampar’s political situation, which had never been firm, collapsed over night. Although Poland had also been cited as a country interested in this new approach, there is no clear record of Gunn having tried to pursue it there. With Rajchman taking long visits to China, all of his hopes rested on Yugoslavia and were totally dependent on Stampar leading the way. With Stampar gone, Gunn again became the itinerant traveler looking for good social science projects to propose to Day.

To better illustrate the nature of Gunn’s work in this capacity, here is a long excerpt from his “interview” with Bronislaw Malinowski (1927-1942), Professor of Anthropology, London School of Economics on March 4, 1931:

1. Prof. Westermarck is coming to London from Morocco in a few months’ time. M. will make further inquiries concerning his situation. (Edvard Westermarck (1862-1939) was a Finnish social anthropologist, philosopher, and sociologist, whose area of specialization was the history of marriage, morality, and religious institutions.)

2. M. very insistent on need for full time Administrative Director of International Institute of African Languages and Cultures…

3. General comments on the part of M. concerning the London School of Economics. M. obviously antagonistic to the development of social biology Department…

4. M. obviously feels that development of social sciences at Oxford University much more significant than proposed African program.

5. Long discussion in connection with London School of Oriental Studies. M. believes that move to Bloomsbury is fundamentally important and that there is absolutely necessity for new director…

6. M. very keen that the LSE staff be strengthened, particularly for purposes of improving opportunities for research and greater attention to advanced students…

Shortly after this visit, Gunn visited Athens, Belgrade, Budapest, Vienna, Prague and Geneva. As reported to Mason (April 13, 1931): “my visit to Greece (which incidentally was my first visit there) was made for the purpose of getting a first-hand idea of the country and its people, and also to have a chance to see Balfour and Wright at work.” Vienna and Prague were essentially concerned with projects in the social sciences while Geneva was to see Rajchman who had just returned from China. He spent two day with him and “obtained a lot of general information concerning Chinese politics and the relationship of the League of Nations to the Chinese Government, which will make a useful background in connection with my own visit.” He added that he was looking forward to his trip to China and was “extremely glad that I am going to have an opportunity to do some work for the Foundation in China, particularly along the lines indicated by you.”

He hoped to see Mason in China, having learned from Rajchman that he might be there in September. However, he did not yet know how long he would spend in China. As it was, he left in early June and spent seven weeks there (June 9 – July 30). His letter to Day (July 14, 1931) immediately began with: There is no doubt that the Social Sciences in China are very much on the move and it looks very likely that the Foundation, if it so desires, will find important opportunities for work in this fields here… I am beginning to get together some general ideas for you on the whole subject…”

As discussed in the next chapter, Gunn left Paris for China in October 1932. Whether he knew in 1931 that his career was no longer in Europe is not clear as he continued well into 1932 to explore the European scene but the situation there steadily worsened as the depression deepened and the threat of war increased. Already in December 1931 in a letter to Mason he reported how the people that he had seen in England seemed “to be waiting for a miracle to happen…” They spoke of their future but invariably ended up their statements “with reference to the fact that this is what they hope to do provided the bottom does not fall out of everything.” (December 9, 1931)

Gunn visited Spain for a couple of weeks at the end of the year at the end of which he reported to Day: “It seems to be the pretty general agreement amongst intelligent Spaniards that the Social Sciences in Spain are in a very primitive condition. Extraordinarily little original work is being done.” Nevertheless he made some proposals to get something started. This trip was followed by one to England, Belgium and Holland. On his return to Paris he wrote a short report to Day adding that he was leaving for Vienna at the end of the week with plans to go on to Budapest, Cluj, Bucharest, and “possibly Jassy, Lwow, Cracow and Warsaw.” He would return via Prague, “probably spend the month of March in the Paris Office and then may make a trip to the Scandinavian countries.” (February 1, 1932).

What exactly Gunn was seeking to do at the time is not totally clear. Russell met with Mason on March 24, 1932 and noted in his diaries that Mason told him “of plans for SMG surveys” without describing what would be surveyed and where. As it was, the financial situation of the Foundation continued to worsen; it was not a propitious time to be looking for any new projects. In his letter to Mason (May 19, 1932) Gunn listed 5 projects for the December meeting of the Board to consider, none of which reflected the new orientation that he had presented to the Board in October, 1930. Mason wrote back (June 9, 1932) to Gunn asking him to “pass the word to all of the European staff that only those proposals should be sent to New York which have reached maturity in negotiations, and which could not be avoided without our losing face and without injury to the institutions involved.”

As for Gunn’s future, he was a bit more upbeat. Tight economic conditions might last for “a year or two, and probably longer (but) when our securities return to high market value, we may have a vastly enlarged program of activities…” This, he continued, has “a strong implication for your new work. We have done much for Europe and we have had a considerable program in China, but I am keenly interested in having the Foundation spread its efforts more broadly than in the past before it concludes its operations. It is, as you know, with this thought that I have been so eager to have you take on the new type of work.”