The main entrance to the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center is now open. Van Pelt Library and the Fisher Fine Arts Library are currently open to Penn Card holders, Penn affiliates, and certain visitors. See our Service Alerts for details.

Accordion List

The Sociology Department and the Graduate Group in Sociology offer instruction on both the undergraduate (B.A.) and graduate (M.A. and Ph.D.) levels. Resources and expertise are available for the study of a wide range of topics. Among them are social theory, family, sociology of organizations, demography, sociology of health and illness, social psychology, sociology of culture, law and social control, race and ethnicity, urban sociology, and the sociology of religion. Graduate students must select two specialties; undergraduates concentrate in one. Knowledge of social theory as well as quantitative and research methods is required of graduate students. The completion of an individual research project of publishable quality is necessary for entrance into the Ph.D. program. Students interested in population and demography gain research experience through various projects conducted by the Population Studies Center, one of the leading research centers in the country.

The Sociology Department currently has a faculty of 26 members. In addition to a heavy enrollment in its undergraduate courses, the department granted an average of 33 B.A. degrees per year over the last five years (1985-1990). In 1990-1991, approximately 65 graduate students were enrolled in the department with approximately seven to eight listed as entering each year. An average of three to four Ph.D.s have been granted per year over the last five years (1985-1990; the umber of M.A.s is not known. A closely-associated program, the Graduate Group in Demography, shares many of the same faculty, has approximately 45 graduate students with eight to ten entering each year, and an average of seven Ph.D.s granted per year over the last five years (1985-1990). Graduates in both programs have found employment in teaching and research in the public and private sectors.

The broad nature of the discipline is evident in the department's collaboration with other Schools and departments. It has ties to the Wharton School, the Medical, Nursing and Law Schools, the Graduate School of Education and with numerous SAS departments.

The bulk of the university's sociology collection is housed in the Van Pelt Library. Shelf-list counts (as of November 1991) estimate approximately 60,000 titles in the Library of Congress HM-HX classifications, including periodicals. This does not include the older material classified under Dewey decimal. The strengths of the Van Pelt collection are method and theory, differentiation and stratification, social control and deviance, urbanization/urban studies, medical sociology (in conjunction with the Biomedical Library), sociology of organizations (in conjunction with the Lippincott Library), demography, and socialization and the life course. Areally, North America and South Asia are probably the best represented. Although the largest portion of the sociology collection is in English, the major European and some other languages are represented as well.

The publications of government and intergovernmental organizations which contain primary data and policy information are among the primary resources for a number of subfields in sociology. The University of Pennsylvania is a partial depository for U.S. government documents (43 percent) and for nearly all English language publications from the United Nations and the European Community. A selection of Pennsylvania state documents is also retained. These materials are housed in the Van Pelt, Lippincott or Biddle libraries, depending on the subject matter. A complete set of the Census of the United States exists in Van Pelt. A complete (or near complete) set of the Census of India also exists, along with the Imperial and district gazetteers (on microform). A scattering of other Third World census material is available. Van Pelt has a blanket order for all UNESCO English language books and pamphlets and for English or French periodicals.

In addition, the Van Pelt Library has a number of microform sets covering such diverse topics as the antebellum plantation records of the American south, British birth control ephemera from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Herstory series, U.S. and foreign underground newspapers from the 1960s and 1970s, and Africana studies materials (including parts of the NAACP papers). The work of the Philadelphia Social History Project is archived in the library as well.

Fulltext electronic news resources are an important source of information for sociological research. The Penn Library Web offers networked online access to local, regional, and international newspapers and magazines through Dow Jones InteractiveEthnic NewsWatchContemporary Women's Issues and GenderWatchLEXIS/NEXIS Academic Universe, and World News Connection. The Penn Library subscribes to Project JSTOR and other scholarly e-journal projects. The eHRAF Collection of Ethnography and its microfiche predecessor Human Relations Area File provide unparalleled access to fulltext scholarly works on ethnics groups within the U.S. and worldwide.

Since the late 1980s, the Penn Library's collection of digital quantitative data resources has been growing. Initial accessions were U.S. Census Bureau decennial census data sets and other CD-ROM-format titles distributed through the federal depository library program. Through the Penn Library Web, Van Pelt Reference has disseminated a variety of numeric information concerning Philadelphia as data extracts and profiles. The Library is currently planning to develop a more complete numeric data service in the near future. The Philadelphia Census Project heralds a likely model for such service, being a web-based GIS/analysis/extraction project collaboratively developed by the Penn Library, the Cartographic Modeling Laboratory of the Graduate School of Fine Arts, and the School of Arts and Sciences.

Bibliographic access to the collection is provided through Franklin, the Penn Library's online catalog. The Van Pelt Library Card Catalog is still needed for locating some pre-1968 materials.

Journal literature bibliography for sociology is provided primarily through the licensed online networked databases Sociological Abstracts and International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, supplemented by AgelineBioethicsLineCAB AbstractsChicano DatabaseCongressional UniverseERIC (Van Pelt Microtext holds the complete ERIC microfiche collection), FRANCISISI Citation IndexesPAIS InternationalProQuest Digital DissertationsSocial Work Abstracts, and Statistical Universe. Relevant free online bibliographic databases linked through the Penn Library Web include Monthly Catalog of US Government DocumentsNCJRS Abstracts Database, and Population Index. A major index for urban studies research is Index to Current Urban Documents, held at Van Pelt Reference.

In addition to its links to licensed and free databases, the Penn Library Web provides pages with links to sociology-related web sites relevant to Penn's curricular and research interests and to relevant e-journal pages and subscribed e-journal project sites.

1. Chronological


2. Formats

Books and journals are primarily collected. Electronic information sources, text and numeric, are increasingly important for both instructional and research needs. The publications of relevant research institutes, technical reports, working papers from major series, and microform sets are selectively considered. Dissertations are collected primarily by request. Texts are not usually considered unless requested.

3. Geographical

The areal interests of the field as well as of the department are worldwide. Faculty expertise is strongest in Africa, Europe, South Asia, and North America.

4. Language

Although there are no limitations as to which languages the library collects, English language publications primarily from the United States and Great Britain are most heavily purchased. Those of the major Western European languages are collected next. Materials in other languages are obtained selectively with particular attention to areas where Penn has historical strength or research is ongoing. Vernacular language materials of Latin America, the Middle East, South and East Asia, and Russia and Eastern Europe are collected by area studies bibliographers.

5. Publication Dates

Emphasis is on current materials. This reflects both scholarly use patterns and budgetary constraints. Retrospective collective is done selectively to fill in gaps or in response to requests.

The interdisciplinary character of sociology results in materials being acquired from widely diverse sources. Approval plans, standing orders, publisher notifications, user requests, and regular review of the scholarly literature account for most of the material purchased. Although many publications of university and domestic presses come primarily on the approval plans, faculty contact and review of the scholarly literature are crucial to obtaining all relevant materials in a timely manner. This is especially true for some types of reports, research institute publications, and the important secondary literature.

Subject Level Location
Communities, Classes, Races 4E  
Demography 3E/4F  
Family/Marriage 4E/4F  
Feminism 3E/3E/4E  
General and Theoretical Sociology 4E/4F  
Organizations, Occupations/Professions, Markets 3E/4E with Lippincott
Political Institutions and the State 4E/4F  
Regional Planning 4E/4E  
Rural Sociology 2E/3F  
Social Classes 3E/4F  
Social History, Social Problems, Social Reform, Social Conditions 4E/4F  
Social Pathology, Social and Public Welfare, Criminology 4E/4E  
Social Psychology 3E/3E/4E  
Socialism, Communism, Anarchism 4E/4F  
Socialization and the Life Course 3E/4F  
Sociology of Art, Knowledge, Religion, Sciences, Sports 3E/3F  
Sociology of Health and Illness 3E/4E with Biomedical
Urban Renewal, Urban Economics 3E/3E/4F  
Urban Sociology, Cities and Towns, Urbanization 4E/4F  
Utopias 3E/3E  


Because of the cross-disciplinary nature of sociology, material in a number of departmental libraries is also heavily used. This includes collections of the Wharton School's Lippincott Library in such areas as the sociology of organizations, human resources, and labor markets; the Law School's Biddle Library in deviance and the sociology of law (including civil rights and civil liberties); the Biomedical Library in the sociology of health and illness; and the Annenberg School of Communication's library in public opinion and communications. The Math/Physics and Engineering libraries are relied upon for material concerning mathematical modeling, statistical analyses, and in some cases, issues relating to technology, society and the environment.

In addition to the Penn Libraries' collections, other campus resources are also used. The Population Studies Center library which focuses on population and demography issues contains considerable data produced by U.S. and international governments and agencies. Social Science Computing (including the Social Science Data Center) is heavily relied upon for numerical information in machine readable form - important to both research and instruction in the field - and stewards Penn's membership in the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research.

Beyond the Penn campus, the Temple University Urban Archives, the Balch Institute, and the Philadelphia City Archives are important sources for those interested in urban and ethnic studies. The College of Physicians' library is useful for the historical study of health, illness, and the practice of medicine.