Title Reviewed:
A Hoosier Village: A Sociological Study, with Special Reference to Social Causation

Author Reviewed:
Newell Leroy Sims

G. S. C.


Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 98-100

Article Type:
Book Review

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"A Hoosier Village: A Sociological Study, with Special Reference to Social Causation," by Newell Leroy Sims, published by Columbia University as one in a series of studies in political science, may fairly be called unique as a contribution to sociology. It takes for its theme a subject so common and near at hand that one is slow to think of it as containing material for nearly two hundred pages of very interesting reading.

Mr. Sims is thoroughly conversant with the community of which he writes, his three years special study of the data for this thesis being strengthened by the fact that previously it had been for many years his home, and he goes at it with a scalpel so industriously that few tissues are left undissected. He considers exhaustively its activities and character in their various phases, and by the light of their historical antecedents. This includes natural environment, elements of population, industries, education, religion, politics, amusements, and other community factors with their many subdivisions.

The host of closely observed facts set forth by Mr. Sims gives one a clear and impressive idea of the operation of social forces operating in a village or small town as distinguished from simple isolated country life on the one hand, or from complex city life on the other, and one's view of social phases generally is illuminated. Just how much light, however, is thrown on the "social causation" which the author aims to elucidate is not so certain. The difficulty of an intensive study of a small unit, like this one, is to distinguish clearly between local cause and effect and more general facts. While communities of a given size may differ from each other owing to local causes, yet back of their more numerous points of resemblance lie causes that are wide as the nation or the race. The belief that life in a Hoosier village is quite distinctively racy and of the soil is an error that has been widely fostered by our literature, whereas a country town in Indiana has in it the characteristics of the country town elsewhere, particularly throughout the Middle West. We do not mean to say that Mr. Sims lends himself to this error. On the contrary, he continually attempts to distinguish between the local and the general elements of his study. The reader with the facts before him is at liberty to sift these elements for himself, and even if he fails to get much out of the few chapters on "social causation" that summarize Mr. Sims's conclusions, he cannot but find in the nineteen other chapters a mass of data that every sociological student should know of.

The village studied, fictitiously designated as Aton, is thinly disguised as to its identity, when, in addition to the description of its natural environment, we are told that it is in the extreme northeastern corner of Indiana, and the seat of justice of a county full of lakes. Angola, in Steuben county, is the only town answering this description.

The price of the book is $1.50, and it may be had through Longmans, Green & Co., New York.

G. S. C.

Published by theĀ Indiana University Department of History.