E. Digby Baltzell Library Book FundThis endowed fund was created in 1986 for the acquisition of materials in history and sociology. The fund honors Emeritus Professor of History and Sociology, Edward Digby Baltzell. A renowned sociologist, Dr. Baltzell's studies of the White Protestant Anglo-Saxon establishment and the creation of its acronym, WASP, made an indelible impression on the American consciousness.
Dr. Baltzell was born in Philadelphia in 1915 and graduated with a B.S. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1940. After World War II service as a naval aviator he earned his Ph.D. from Columbia and returned to Penn to become one of the University's most popular and influential teachers, as well as a best-selling author whose books were popular with the general public and at the same time respected by colleagues. He served on the faculty of sociology at Penn from 1947 to his retirement in 1986.
An outstanding teacher who built lifetime ties with many of his students, he won SAS's Ira Abrams Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1985, an Alumni Award of Merit, the Philadelphia Athenaeum's Nonfiction Book Award, and honorary degreees from LaSalle College and the University of Pennsylvania.
Outside the University, Dr. Baltzell's fame rested primarily on four well-known books.
Two that were produced early in his career (the 1958 Philadelphia Gentlemen: The Making of a National Upper Class, and the 1964 The Protestant Establishment: Aristocracy and Caste in America) established his reputation among American social commentators, as well as scholars and students, as a man with something new to say and a persuasive way of saying it. He studied the "haves" as other sociologists studied the "have-nots," identifying sociological factors that he believed would bring about a decline in leadership if the ruling elite did not assume its responsibilities and at the same time open its doors to rising new energies.
Decades later his Puritan Boston and Quaker Philadelphia: Two Protestant Ethics and the Spirit of Authority and Leadership contrasted two styles of urban aristocracy, with Philadelphia coming off second best. In Sporting Gentlemen: Men's Tennis from the Golden Age of Amateurism to the Cult of the Superstar, he identified Arthur Ashe as the "last best example of the gentlemanly values of the amateur."
Rosemary A. Stevens, Dean, School of Arts and Sciences said upon his death: "Digby was a true phenomenon, a presence, an original splendid scholar and a fantastic teacher. All of us will miss him personally, professionally, and institutionally. His legacy is rich and I know that Digby Baltzell will continue to be a force on the Penn campus long into the future."
It is fitting that there is an endowed Library fund in his honor.