Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Theodore Fred Abel papers
Date (inclusive): 1930-1988
Collection Number: 50000
Abel, Theodore Fred, 1896-1988.
Hoover Institution Archives
Stanford, California 94305-6010
Diaries, other writings, and printed matter related to sociological theory and world politics. Also includes autobiographical
sketches by members of the Nationalsozialistische deutsche Arbeiter-Partei, relating to their reasons for becoming national
socialists, collected by Theodore Abel as research material for his book
Why Hitler Came into Power
Language of the materials:
The collection is in English, with some materials in German
Hoover Institution Archives
Number of Containers: 30 manuscript boxes
(12.5 linear feet)
Collection is open for research.
For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Archives
[Identification of item], Theodore Fred Abel papers, [Box number], Hoover Institution Archives.
Materials were acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives in 1950, with increments in March 1986 and most likely 1990.
Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. To determine if this has occurred, find
the collection in Stanford University's online catalog at
. Materials have been added to the collection if the number of boxes listed in the online catalog is larger than the number
of boxes listed in this finding aid.
Theodora Abel Papers, M1045. Archives of the History of American Psychology, University of Akron, Ohio
||Born, Lodz, Poland
||Served in the Polish Army
||Liaison officer, American Young Men's Christian Association
||Studied at University of Warsaw and University of Poznan
||Emigrated to United States
||Taught at the University of Illinois
||Ph.D., Columbia University
||Sociology professor, Columbia University
Protestant Home Missions to Catholic Immigrants
||Collected autobiographies of followers of Adolf Hitler
Why Hitler Came to Power
||Served on Herbert Hoover's Commission for Polish Relief
||Professor and chairman, Department of Sociology at Hunter College, City University of New York
||President, Eastern Sociological Society
||Taught at University of Notre Dame, University of Waterloo (Canada), and University of New Mexico
||Received merit award from the Eastern Sociological Society
The Foundation of Sociological Theory
Source: "Abel, Theodore." Robert Bierstedt.
International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. Volume 18. Edited by David L. Sills.
Scope and Content of Collection
The Theodore Abel papers contain diaries, other writings, and printed matter related to sociological theory and world politics.
The collection also includes autobiographical sketches by members of the Nationalsozialistische deutsche Arbeiter-Partei,
relating to their reasons for becoming national socialists, collected by Abel as research material for his book
Why Hitler Came into Power: An Answer Based on the Original Life Stories of Six Hundred of His Followers (1938).
Abel collected the autobiographies of hundreds of followers of Adolf Hitler in 1934 as source material to improve upon the
understanding of the Hitler movement. While visiting Germany in the summer of 1933, Abel was struck by the willingness of
many Germans to discuss their political experiences. To follow up on this, in June 1934 he announced a prize contest designed
to induce Hitler's followers to submit their life stories. He posted this announcement at all local headquarters of the Nationalsozialistische
deutsche Arbeiter-Partei and in the party press:
"400 Marks in Prizes
For the Best Personal Life History of an Adherent of the Hitler Movement
Any person, regardless of sex or age, who was a member of the National Socialist party before January 1, 1933, or who was
in sympathy with the movement, may participate in this contest.
Contestants are to give accurate and detailed descriptions of their personal lives, particularly after the World War. Special
attention should be given to accounts of family life, education, economic conditions, membership in associations, participation
in the Hitler movement, and important experiences, thoughts, and feelings about events and ideas of the post-war period.
The prizes will be awarded to authors who have submitted the most detailed and trustworthy accounts. Style, spelling, or dramatic
story value will not be considered. Completeness and frankness are the sole criteria, so that even the simplest and most undramatic
story will receive full consideration.
The prizes will be awarded as follows:
First prize . . . . . . 125 marks
Second prize . . . . . . 50 marks
Third prize . . . . . . 25 marks
Five prizes . . . . . . 20 marks each
Ten prizes . . . . . . 10 marks each
The prize money is deposited in the German Bank. The contest is organized under the tutelage of the sociology department of
Columbia University, whose members will be the final judges. The purpose of the contest is the collection of material on the
history of National Socialism, so that the American public may be informed about it on the basis of factual, personal documents.
The contestants whose contributions are published in part or in full will receive an additional honorarium of two marks per
printed page. Manuscripts will not be returned and must be submitted on or before September 1934."
Abel received 683 manuscripts, the content of which he felt justified the project and the personal expense of paying for the
prizes. Of these 683 manuscripts, 48 were written by women and were not considered by Abel for the study published as
Why Hitler Came into Power (he planned a separate article about the women's histories). Also excluded from study for the book were a score of biographies
of one or two pages that contained very little information.
The autobiographies, called biograms in this finding aid, contain data on age, occupation, socioeconomic class, education,
employment, membership in various associations, place of residence, marital status, military service in World War I, participation
in military activities after World War I, first contacts with the National Socialist movement, the main reason for joining
the movement, expressions of anti-Semitism, etc. Abel's assessment of the reliability and objectivity of the biograms is included
in the introduction to his book, which is also the source of this scope and content note.
The incremental materials consist of diaries, speeches and writings, course materials, and printed matter that were most likely
acquired by the Hoover Institution Archives in 1986 and 1990. Two of Abel's later diaries can be found in this file, as well
as diary transcriptions. The file includes Abel's speeches and writings on sociology, including writings on Verstehen and
various book reviews. The course materials include extensive handwritten notes by Abel on topics such as Max Weber and social
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Nationalsozialistische deutsche Arbeiter-Partei.
Germany--Politics and government.
World politics--20th century.