Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck's criminology research is a reminder that conceptions of social justice evolve over time

  • Eleanor & Sheldon Glueck in cap and gown_1924-25_HOLLIS 8001346192

    Eleanor T. Glueck and Sheldon Glueck in cap and gown, 1924-1925

    Eleanor received her Ed.D. in Educational Psychology in 1925; Sheldon received his Ph.D. in 1924.

  • 7.26.17PostersEtc115_Detail of Glueck Research binder_Eleanor & Sheldon Glueck Papers_Box 26-5

    Papers of Eleanor T. and Sheldon Glueck, 1911-1972: Box 26-5

    This research binder illustrates the Gluecks’ painstaking methods of fact-gathering and reliance on empirical data.

  • Gluecks before receiving honorary Harvard degree_1958_HOLLIS  8001346193

    Eleanor and Sheldon Glueck, 1958

    The Gluecks were the first husband and wife team in Harvard’s history to be given honorary degrees.

  • Glueck_Boston Juvenile Court distinguished service medal_HOLLIS 8001351541_recto-verso

    The Boston Juvenile Court distinguished service medal, 1951 or 1952

    In 1952, the Gluecks received an award from the Boston Juvenile Court for their research in the prevention of delinquency.

Eleanor and Sheldon Glueck just before receiving their honorary Doctor of Science degrees from Harvard, 12 June 1958

Kodacolor print, 7 x 5 in.
Eleanor T. (Eleanor Touroff) and Sheldon Glueck Visual Materials
HOLLIS 8001346193

Sheldon Glueck received his Ph.D. from the Harvard Department of Social Ethics in 1924. Glueck began teaching at Harvard Law School as an assistant professor of criminology in 1929, and in 1950 became the first Roscoe Pound Professor of Law. Eleanor T. (Eleanor Touroff) Glueck received her Doctorate in Educational Psychology from Harvard in 1925. At the time, the Education School was the only Harvard school to admit women, and she was one of only two women to receive a Doctorate of Education from Harvard that year. She never secured a tenured faculty position or teaching position at Harvard. The Gluecks’ eclectic educational background reflected their interdisciplinary pursuits at the intersection of social science and law and also led to a significant degree of social and professional isolation.

Between 1933 and 1969, Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck received numerous awards for their work, the majority of which recognized their contribution to the study of chronically delinquent youth and the predictability and causality of crimes. The Gluecks were the first husband and wife team in Harvard’s history to be given honorary degrees. They were recognized chiefly for their contribution to the study of chronic juvenile delinquency at a time when recidivism and the link between criminal behavior and sociological factors, such as family life, peer groups, and temperament, was little understood.

Yet their work also reminds us that conceptions of social justice evolve over time: over the decades, their research has proven controversial among criminologists for its insularity, moral judgments of lower-income families, and a failure to incorporate sociological factors like culture and community in favor of variables traditionally thought to influence crime, like morphology, class, and intelligence.