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Harvard. Final Examination Questions for Carver’s Sociology, 1918


For new visitors to Economics in the Rear-view Mirror and as a reminder to everyone else, Sociology was not a distinct department at Harvard until the 1930s but instead was one field taught within the economics department.

Today’s posting provides the examination questions for the final examination in Thomas Nixon Carver’s course  “Principles of Sociology” from June, 1918. The syllabus to the course along with links to the individual items has been posted earlier. The mid-year examination questions from February, 1923 for the later academic year and the final examination questions from June, 1923 have been also posted as well.


Course Announcement

[Economics] 8. Principles of Sociology. Mon., Wed., Fri., at 9. Professor Carver, assisted by Mr….

A study in social adaptation, both passive and active. Problems of race improvement, moral adjustment, industrial organization, and social control are considered in detail.

Source:  Harvard University. Division of History, Government, and Economics 1917-18 published in Official Register of Harvard University, Vol. XIV, No. 25 (May 18, 1917), p. 62.


Course Enrollment

[Economics] 8. Professor Carver–Principles of Sociology.

Total 17: of which 7 Seniors, 8 Juniors, 2 Other.

Source: Harvard University. Report of the President of Harvard College 1917-18, p. 54.


Final Examination June 1918




1.      (a) What is meant by adaptation in general?

(b) In what sense must the individual be “fitted into” the group?

(c) What special significance attaches to the sovereign group?

(d) In what sense must the sovereign group itself be “fitted into” something larger?

2.      (a) What is the relation of variation and selection to the process of adaptation?

(b) What is meant by passive adaptation?

(c) What is meant by active adaptation?

(d) In what respects does human adaptation differ from the adaptation of plants and animals?

3.      (a) Upon what factors must a program for the improvement of the race chiefly depend? Explain?

(b) What factors are now at work toward the improvement of the race in a modern, civilized society?

(c) What factors are tending to produce deterioration?

4.     (a) Under what circumstances might the fact that a man could prosper in an industrial society prove his fitness to survive, from the standpoint of race improvement?

(b) Under what circumstances might it prove the opposite?

(c) Is economic success a sign of fitness more frequently than of unfitness? Give reasons.

5.     (a) What is meant by moral adaptation in general?

(b) What is the ultimate test of the soundness of a moral code, from the standpoint of this course?

(c) What is the relation of religion to the problem of adaptation?

6.     (a) What is the relation of economic scarcity to the conflict of human interests?

(b) What are the chief causes of economic scarcity?



Source: Harvard University Archives. Harvard University. Papers Set for Final Examinations in History, History of Religions, … ,Economics, … , Fine Arts, Music. June, 1918. (HUC 7000.28, 60 of 284).


Image Source: Harvard Class Album 1915.



Irwin Collier

Posted by: Irwin Collier