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Arthur J. Vidich papers

Identifier: NA-0009-01


Arthur J. Vidich (1922-2006) was a long-term member of the faculty at the New School for Social Research as a professor of Sociology (1960-1991). He published dozens of books, papers, and edited anthologies, notably Small Town in Mass Society: Class, Power, and Religion in a Rural Community (1958). This collection contains material documenting his teaching, writing, lectures, and other academic and professional work spanning his entire career.

Included are correspondence with colleagues, friends, and presses; manuscript and typescript drafts of his writings; conference and lecture materials; subject files relating to his colleagues and personal life; and items pertaining to his teaching at the New School and other institutions, as well as his role as chair of the New School Sociology Department; photographs; and audio and video recordings of lectures, talks, and courses.


  • 1940 - 2005



19 Cubic Feet (14 record cartons, 1 document box, 1 folder)

Scope and Content of Collection

These papers document the life and work of Arthur J. Vidich. The bulk of this collection consists of drafts, correspondence, and contracts related to Vidich's writings, as well as items pertaining to his teaching and administration of the Sociology Department at the New School. The collection consists primarily of paper manuscripts and photographs; however, also included are thirty-one cassette tapes, one VHS tape, and one magnetic reel-to-reel, containing audio of Vidich's courses and public lectures. Finally, the collection includes twenty floppy disks containing drafts of Vidich's autobiography, With a Critical Eye.

The first series, Biographical and subject files, consists of material documenting Vidich's life ranging from the 1940s through the 2000s. Included are photographs of Vidich, materials pertaining to his education, his service in the Marine Corps during World War II, and transcripts of interviews conducted in the 1990s. The series also documents Vidich's relationshp with friends and colleagues, including Joseph Bensman, Stanley Diamond, Robert Jackall, Stanford Lyman, Daria Martin, and Hans Speier. Files may include photographs, correspondence, drafts of writings, clippings and other printed material.

The second series consists of correspondence sent and received by Vidich. Running from the 1950s to the 2000s, this material relates largely to his professional academic and writing activities. One subseries is organized alphabetically by correspondent, another is arranged chronologically.

The third series, Teaching and departmental administration, consists of items relating to Vidich's courses and his role as chair of the Sociology Department at the New School. Course files encompass Vidich's teaching at the New School as well as work at other institutions where he held faculty positions (such as the University of Puerto Rico) and visiting professorships. This series also reflects Vidich's administrative role as acting chair and chair of the department. Items include correspondence, student material, meeting minutes, reports and proposals, and financial, scholarship, and degree requirement information. Also included is a significant cache of material relating to the accreditation crisis in the Graduate Faculty in 1977.

The fourth and largest series, Writings, consists of manuscript and typescript drafts, correspondence, contracts, and reference material related to Vidich's extensive publications, including articles, presentations, research papers, monograph books, and edited collections and anthologies. Also included are flyers, correspondence, and notes related to Vidich's conference papers, invited talks, and other presentations. Finally, the series contains correspondence and reviews reflecting Vidich's work as a reader, reviewer, editor and consultant for academic and trade publishers. Throughout the series, material demonstrates Vidich's frequent collaborations with Stanford Lyman and Joseph Bensman, among others. The items in this series reflect Vidich's writings and professional work from his doctoral thesis in 1948 until his death in 2008.

Language of Materials

English; Spanish; Slovenian; German.

Access Note

Collection is open for research use. Contact the archives to view material migrated from floppy disks: for further information.

Files containing student records are restricted for 120 years after person's known or estimated birth (or group of persons, like a class). Files with faculty or other personnel salary, performance reviews, hiring information are restricted for 50 years from creation date of item (or last creation date in file). Please contact for appointment.

Use Note

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the New School Archives and Special Collections. Please contact:

Biographical Note

Sociologist Arthur J. Vidich was a first-generation American, born to Slovenian immigrants in Manganese, Minnesota on May 30, 1922. He grew up in West Allis, a suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin in the 1920s and 1930s.

Vidich spent his college years at the Universities of Wisconsin and, later, Michigan, graduating in 1943. He served in the Marine Corps in the Pacific Theatre during World War II. Upon his return, he earned an MA at the University of Wisconsin in 1948 and a PhD from Harvard in 1953, with a dissertation entitled The Political Impact of Colonial Administration, based on fieldwork in Micronesia on the island of Palau carried out in 1947-1948.

A prolific writer, Vidich's work charted the changing social relations and institutions of post-war America. His early intellectual influences, preceding his Harvard years, included the anthropologist Leslie White and the sociologist Hans Gerth. Defining himself as an intellectual outsider and fieldworker, he produced incisive and at times controversial writings. The most famous example is the community study of a small upstate New York town that Vidich described with Joseph Bensman in their 1958 book, Small Town in Mass Society. Other provocative books include The New American Society: The Revolution of the Middle Class, American Sociology: Worldly Rejections of Religion and Their Directions (1985), a critique of mainstream sociology written with Stanford Lyman; and Collaboration, Reputation, and Ethics in American Intellectual Life: Hans H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills (1999), written with Guy Oakes, which painted a less complimentary picture of Mills than had been common theretofore. Vidich's final book, With a Critical Eye: An Intellectual and His Times, is a memoir published posthumously in 2009.

In addition to these titles, Vidich wrote dozens of other books and journal articles, and edited numerous readers, anthologies, and collections. Along with Stanford M. Lyman, he was founding editor of the journal, State, Culture and Society, which began publication in Fall, 1984.

Vidich's first teaching position was at the University of Puerto Rico in 1955, where he taught sociology and conducted field research on small towns on the island. However, his major affiliation was with the Sociology Department in the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research. He served on the faculty from 1960-1991. He taught sociology and anthropology courses before the establishment of a separate anthropology program in 1970. He served as acting chair of the Sociology Department from 1970-1973 and again from 1975-1976, and as chair from 1978-1985. He lectured internationally as a visiting professor and was Senior Fulbright Lecturer at the University of Zagreb, Yugoslavia from June, 1973-January, 1974. Vidich personally funded the Hans Speier Chair and established the Hans Speier Distinguished Visiting Professorship in the Graduate Faculty in 1993.

Arthur Vidich died of chronic lymphatic lymphoma on March 16th, 2006 in Southampton, New York.

Organization and Arrangement

Arranged alphabetically in four series: 1. Biographical and subject files, 2. Correspondence, 3. Teaching and departmental administration, 4. Professional activities

Custodial History

The Arthur J. Vidich Archive was amassed by Vidich between the years 1940 and 2005 and donated by Vidich to the New School for Social Research in 1997.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transferred in 2015 to the New School Archives from the former Raymond Fogelman Social Sciences and Humanities Library, New School for Social Research.

Related Materials

The New School Archives holds a number of collections related to New School departmental and administrative matters. Two of these include the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research collection (NS.02.02.01) and the New School for Social Research records (NS.02.02.03). A blog dedicated to the life and work of Arthur Vidich is maintained by his son, Charles Vidich, at

Guide to the Arthur J. Vidich papers
Jennifer Ulrich
October 19, 2015
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2016: Collection guide revised by Aaron Winslow.
  • July 31, 2018: New School Archives staff updated with information about floppy disks.
  • January 16, 2019: New School Archives staff updated with information about floppy disks.