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b. 23 Sept. 1847 at Saint-Antoine-de-la-Rivière-du-Loup (Louiseville), Canada East


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Original title:  MacLean, Annie Marion. Canada's Early Women Writers. SFU Library Digital Collections. Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada. 1980-2014.

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MacLEAN, ANNIE MARION, teacher, sociologist, and author; b. 20 Jan. 1870 in St Peters Bay, P.E.I., daughter of John Anderson MacLean and Christina MacDonald; d. unmarried 4 May 1934 in Pasadena, Calif.

Annie Marion MacLean was a pioneering scholar and the first Canadian to be trained in the emerging academic discipline of sociology. She spent almost all of her career in the United States. The daughter of a Baptist minister, she graduated from Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S. (1893, 1894). She subsequently joined the faculty of Mount Carroll Seminary, a Baptist women’s college in Illinois, where she served as preceptress until 1896. MacLean then began graduate work at the University of Chicago, to which the college had affiliated as the Frances Shimer Academy. Her brother, Murdock Haddon, had launched his graduate studies at Chicago and after 1896 he was employed in management positions there before embarking on a banking and philanthropic career.

The university had opened the first sociology department in the United States in 1892, under Albion Woodbury Small, and was the most important centre for this discipline. (The Royal Society of Canada would adopt it as a field of study only in 1912 [see Robert-Errol Bouchette*] and McGill University set up the first academic department in Canada in 1922 [see Carl Addington Dawson*].) MacLean may have been the first female to receive a in sociology from Chicago (1897); her thesis was titled “Factory legislation for women in the United States.” Working with Charles Richmond Henderson, she was one of the first women to be awarded a phd in sociology and political science at the same university, in 1900, for “The Acadian element in the population of Nova Scotia.” Unfortunately this dissertation has been lost.

MacLean’s academic interests focused on immigration, race, and women and work. Her research on women, which produced a rich source of data for future sociologists, was characterized by participant observation. She herself toiled for short periods as a department-store employee, a sweatshop worker, an agricultural hand, and a factory labourer. Her studies mainly defined the problems faced by women, and only occasionally proposed solutions: for example, in an article in 1899–1900 on factory legislation for women in Canada, she supported the arguments of the National Council of Women of Canada for provincial regulation and female inspectors.

Following the lead of Small, MacLean displayed a passion for social reform that went beyond her academic engagement. She was a founding member of the National Consumers League and supported the Consumers’ League of Illinois. The latter, established at Hull House social settlement in Chicago in 1898, was a permanent embodiment of the league formed by university alumnae the previous year. In June 1900 MacLean was perhaps the first Canadian to attend the New York Charity Organization Society’s summer session, when she lived at the New York College Settlement on the Lower East Side. That summer she assisted the New York State Tenement House Commission.

MacLean had held an appointment as instructor of history and economics at the Royal Victoria College for women in Montreal in 1899–1900, its first year of operation. She then became professor of sociology and economics and first dean of women at Stetson University in DeLand, Fla. In 1902 she left Stetson for Chicago, where she filled positions in the home-study department of the University of Chicago, as “extension instructor in sociology” in 1903–7 and an “extension assistant professor of sociology” from 1907 to her death in 1934. While at Chicago she contributed the chapter on France to C. R. Henderson’s landmark study Modern methods of charity  (New York, 1904). She held a professorship in sociology at Adelphi College in Brooklyn (New York) between 1906 and 1912, during which time she directed a major study by the National Board of the Young Women’s Christian Association. It was published as Wage-earning women (New York, 1910). Her move to New York also led to some work with the YWCA’s National Training School. Professionally she was a founding member of the American Sociological Society in 1905 and an active participant in the American Social Science Association.

It may have been poor health that prevented further full-time academic positions, but MacLean continued to support herself, by writing and by conducting correspondence courses for the University of Chicago. During the 1910s she began examining the problems she associated with assimilation. She wanted to ensure that the North American population remained free from the influences of immigrants. She pulled no punches when it came to articulating her preference for the United States. In an article in the American Journal of Sociology (Chicago) on Canadian migration into the States, she had decried her native land: “Canada for the Canadians is a myth; Canada for the British is dwarfing; while America for the Americans – a continental state – is the hope of the future.” Altogether she produced at least 8 books and 29 articles in such periodicals as Sociology and Social Research (Los Angeles), Charities and the Commons (New York), and Popular Science Monthly (New York).

During the last 20 years of her life, MacLean also wrote about arthritic rheumatism, a subject of personal interest, and the challenges she faced finding happiness. She was awarded an honorary  by Acadia in 1923, at which time she was residing in Evanston, Ill. By 1925 she was living with her sister Jessie Mildred MacLean, also an academic and an author, in Pasadena, where she died in May 1934.

Tiffany Colannino and Suzanne Morton

Annie Marion MacLean is the author of: “Factory legislation for women in the United States,” American Journal of Sociology (Chicago), 3 (1897–8): 183–205; “Significance of the Canadian migration,” American Journal of Sociology, 10 (1904–5): 814–23; “France,” in C. R. Henderson, Modern methods of charity: an account of the systems of relief, public and private, in the principal countries having modern methods (New York, 1904), 512–55; Mary Ann’s malady: fragmentary papers dealing with a woman and rheumatism (New York, 1914); “Cheero!” (New York, 1918); Some problems of reconstruction (Chicago, 1921); Our neighbors (New York, 1922); and This way lies happiness (Chicago, 1923). She also contributed to three series: The citizen’s library of economics, politics, and sociology; The national social science series; and the Lippincott sociological series. In the first she wrote Wage-earning women, intro. G. H. Dodge (New York, 1910; repr. 1974), in the second, Women workers and society (Chicago, 1916), and in the third, Modern immigration: a view of the situation in immigrant receiving countries (Philadelphia, 1925). Other items written by MacLean are listed in Jenn Bumb, “Annie Marion MacLean”: www.webster.edu/~woolflm/anniemaclean.html (consulted 3 Dec. 2012).

Acadia Univ. Vaughan Memorial Library, Esther Clark Wright Arch. (Wolfville, N.S.), 1900.006 (Acadia Ladies Seminary coll.). Northern Illinois Univ., Regional Hist. Center (DeKalb, Ill.), RC 77 (Frances W. Shimer College coll. (Mt Carroll), 1838–1980). Stetson Univ., duPont-Ball Library, Arch. and Special Coll. (DeLand, Fla), Presidents papers. Univ. of Chicago Library, Special Coll. Research Center, Handbooks, directories, and guides. New York Times, 5 May 1934. The Acadia record, 1838–1953, comp. Watson Kirkconnell (4th ed., Wolfville, 1953). “Annie Marion MacLean,” American Journal of Sociology, 40 (1934–35): 104. D. F. Campbell, “Annie Marion MacLean: the first Canadian-born sociologist,” Society (Montreal), 24 (2000), no.1: 5–6. Charities: a Review of Local and General Philanthropy (East Stroudsburg, Pa), 16 June 1900. V. K. Fish, “Annie Marion MacLean: a neglected part of the Chicago School,” Journal of the Hist. of Sociology ([Brookline, Mass.]), 3 (1981), no.2: 43–62. Tim Hallett and Gregory Jeffers, “The long-lost mother of contemporary ethnography: Annie Marion MacLean and the legacy of a method” (paper presented to the American Sociological Assoc., Philadelphia, 12 Aug. 2005). H. J. MacMillan, “Annie Marion MacLean: the public career of an American progressive from the Maritime provinces of Canada, 1897–1933” (ba thesis, Acadia Univ., 1987). H. D. Oakeley, My adventures in education (London, 1939). Simeon Spidle, Eminent sons of Acadia ([Wolfville, n.d.]). The women founders: sociology and social theory, 1830–1930: a text/reader, ed. P. M. Lengermann and Jill Niebrugge-Brantley (Boston, 1998).

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Cite This Article

Tiffany Colannino and Suzanne Morton, “MacLEAN, ANNIE MARION,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 16, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed September 23, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/maclean_annie_marion_16E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/maclean_annie_marion_16E.html
Author of Article:   Tiffany Colannino and Suzanne Morton
Title of Article:   MacLEAN, ANNIE MARION
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 16
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   2014
Year of revision:   2014
Access Date:   September 23, 2023