From a Caste to a Minority explores the complex and changing attitudes held toward blacks by the nation's leading sociologists from 1896 to the end of World War II. It examines how and why sociology transformed itself from a discipline that rationalized caste-like arrangements in the United States to one that actively advocated and supported the full assimilation of Afro-Americans into the American mainstream. The study suggests that the ascendency of assimilationist theory in post-World War II sociology represents the triumph of ideals of black progress and assimilation proposed in American sociological theory since 1896. Despite a capitulation to the forces of racism and reaction before 1911, sociologists eventually developed their discipline into one of the most forward-looking of all the social sciences.Presented in a highly readable, narrative format, the book demonstrates the impact of black sociological thought and discusses the role played by amateur sociology in a discipline increasingly conscious of its professional standing. Changing attitudes toward Afro-Americans against a backdrop of black migration to the North are also explored, thereby linking intellectual and social history. This extensively researched study presents the social scientific discussion of Afro-Americans and race relations from 1896 to 1945 in greater depth than any previous work. It will be a valuable asset to students and scholars of Afro-American history as well as to those interested in the development of the social sciences, and in American intellectual history after 1865.