photo of Moscow Rizhsky railway station (now the Riga railway station)



From which Sorokin and his wife left for Riga, Latvia; Prague; and overseas:

On a gray afternoon September 23 1922 the first group of exiles gathered at the Moscow railway station. I carried our two valises into the Lettish diplomatic car. “Omnia mea mecum porto” I could say of myself. In a pair of shoes sent me by a Czech scientist a suit donated by the American Relief Administration and with fifty rubles in my pocket I left my native land. All my companions were in a similar plight but none of us worried very much. In spite of prohibitions of the authorities many friends and acquaintances came to see us off with gifts of flowers handclasps and tears. We all devoured with our eyes their faces the disappearing streets of Moscow the last glimpse of the fatherland.

Next day we reached Sebage the boundary line of Russia. Half an hour later we passed a Red flag-and Soviet Russia was behind us. That night after five years we lay down to sleep without asking ourselves the question ‘Will they come tonight or not?”

A Long Journey: The Autobiography of Pitirim A. Sorokin, pg. 196

— posted by Roger W. Smith

July 2022

Photo courtesy my good friend and fellow scholar Yuri Doykov

“Sorokin Stages Final Lecture Today: Famed Sociologist To Tell Of ‘Hopes For The Future’ ”


‘Sorokin Stages Final Lecture Today’ – Valley State Sundial 3-17-1960 pg 1 (2)


Posted here:

“Sorokin Stages Final Lecture Today: Famed Sociologist To Tell Of ‘Hopes For The Future’ ”

Valley State Sundial

March 17, 1960

The Valley State Sundial was the student newspaper of San Fernando Valley State College. The college adopted its s current name of California State University, Northridge in 1972.

Sorokin made a lecture tour in California in 1962. See his autobiography, A Long Journey, pg. 314.


— posted by Roger W. Smith

      July 2022

Sorokin’s early reading


Питирим Сорокин аккуратно записывал в дневник назва-ния прочитанных им книг и авторов: 4 тома А.  П.  Чехова, Ф.  М.  Достоевского  — «Преступление и наказание», «Дневник писателя», «Бедные люди» и другие. Огромное впечатление произвел на него «Идиот». Дальше идут книги A.M.  Горького, И.  А.  Гончарова, Г.  Сенкевича, Н.  А.  Некрасова, Л.  Н.  Толстого, У.  Шекспира, П.  В.  Засодимского. В.Гюго, A.M.  Скабичевского, Г.  И.  Успенского, А.  И.  Писарева, выписки из древнегреческих философов: Демокрита, Гераклита, Пифагора, Анаксагора, Про-тагора, Сократа. Среди прочитанных книг — работы B.C.  Соло-вьева, Гегеля, В.Чернова («Монистическая точка зрения в исто-рии и психологии», «К вопросу о капитализме и крестьянстве»), М. И. Туган-Барановского («Теоретические основы марксизма»), В.  И.  Ленина («Проект аграрной программы» и др.) а также книги В.  И.  Засулич и «Прошлое Шлиссельбургской крепости» В.  Панкратова, «Популярные очерки политической экономии» П.  Кропоткина.

— Дойков, Юрий, Питирим Сорокин, Человек вне сезона: Биография. Том 1 (1889–1922); Архангельск, 2008., стр. 23


Pitirim Sorokin carefully recorded in his diary the names of the books and authors he read: 4 volumes by A. P. Chekhov, F. M. Dostoevsky – “Crime and Punishment”, “Writer’s Diary”, “Poor People” and others. The Idiot made a huge impression on him. Then there are books by A. M. Gorky, I. A. Goncharov, G. Senkevich, N. A. Nekrasov, L. N. Tolstoy, W. Shakespeare, P. V. Zasodimsky. V. Hugo, A. M. Skabichevsky, G. I. Uspensky, A. I. Pisarev, extracts from ancient Greek philosophers: Democritus, Heraclitus, Pythagoras, Anaxagoras, Protagoras, Socrates. Among the books read are the works of B.C. Soloviev, Hegel, V. Chernov (“The Monistic Point of View in History and Psychology”, “On the Question of Capitalism and the Peasantry”), M. I. Tugan-Baranovsky (“Theoretical Foundations of Marxism”), V. I. Lenin (“The Project of the Agrarian Program”, etc.), as well as books by V. I. Zasulich and “The Past of the Shlisselburg Fortress” by V. Pankratov, “Popular Essays on Political Economy” by P. Kropotkin.

Yuri Doykov, Pitirim Sorokin: A Timeless Man; A Biography, Volume 1 (1889-1922); Arkhangelsk, 2008, pg. 23


— posted by Roger W. Smith

      April 2022

“Use of A-Bomb Condemned”


‘Use of A-Bomb Condemned’ – NY Times 8-3-1955

Posted here (PDF file above):

Use of A-Bomb Condemned: Group Notes Tenth Anniversary of Bombing of Hiroshima

letter to editor

The New York Times

August 3, 1955

The signers were Clarence E. Pickett, Bishop W. Appleton Lawrence, Lewis Mumford, Pitirim A. Sorokin, W. Harold Row, A. Philp Randolph, Orie O. Miller, Howard Thurman, Henry J. Cadbury, A. J. Muste, Roland H. Bainton, and Rabbi Isidor B. Hoffman.


— posted by Roger W. Smith

     March 2022

scholarly publications of Helen P. Sorokin


Helen P. Sorokin – articles


Helen P. Sorokin
A Study of Meiosis in Ranunculus acris
American Journal of Botany, Vol. 14, No. 2 (February 1927), pp. 76-84

Helen Sorokin – American J of Botany, February 1927 (2)

Helen Sorokin
The Chromosomes of Ranunculus acris
The American Naturalist, Vol. 61, No. 677 (November-December 1927), pp. 571-574

Helen Sorokin – American Naturalist, Nov-Dec 1927 (2)


Helen Sorokin
Variation in Homoeotypic Division in Ranunculus acris
American Journal of Botany, Vol. 14, No. 10 (December 1927), pp. 565-581

Helen Sorokin – American J of Botany, December 1927 (2)


A. L. Sommer and Helen Sorokin
Effects of the Absence of Boron and of Some Other Essential Elements on the Cell and Tissue Structure of the Root Tips of Pisum sativum
Plant Physiology, Vol. 3, No. 3 (July 1928), pp. 237-260

A. L. Sommer and Helen Sorokin – Plant Physiology, July 1928 (2)

Helen Sorokin and Anna L. Sommer
Changes in the Cells and Tissues of Root Tips Induced by the Absence of Calcium Author(s):
American Journal of Botany, Vol. 16, No. 1 (January 1929), pp. 23-39

Helen Sorokin and Anna L. Sommer – American J of Botany, January 1929 (2)

Helen Sorokin
Idiograms, Nucleoli, and Satellites of Certain Ranunculaceae
American Journal of Botany, Vol. 16, No. 6 (June 1929), pp. 407-420

Helen Sorokin – American J of Botany, June 1929 (2)


Helen Sorokin
Mitochondria and Plastids in Living Cells of Allium Cepa
American Journal of Botany, Vol. 25, No. 1 (January 1938), pp. 28-33

Helen Sorokin – American J of Botany, January 1938 (2)


Helen Sorokin and Anna L. Sommer
Effects of Calcium Deficiency Upon the Roots of Pisum sativum
American Journal of Botany, Vol. 27, No. 5 (May 1940), pp. 308-318

Helen P. Sorokin and Anna L. Sommer – American J of Botany, May 1940 (2)


Helen Sorokin
The Distinction between Mitochondria and Plastids in Living Epidermal Cells
American Journal of Botany, Vol. 28, No. 6 (June 1941), pp. 476-485

Helen Sorokin – American J of Botany, June 1941 (2)


Helen P. Sorokin
Mitochondria and Spherosomes in the Living Epidermal Cell
American Journal of Botany, Vol. 42, No. 3 (March 1955), pp. 225-231

Helen P. Sorokin – American J of Botany, March 1955 (2)

Helen P. Sorokin
Mitochondria and Precipitates of A-Type Vacuoles in Plant Cells
Journal of the Arnold Arboretum, Vol. 36, No. 2/3 (April-July 1955), pp. 293-304 (published by Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University)

Helen P. Sorokin – J of the Arnold Arboretum, April-July 1955 (2)


Helen P. Sorokin and Sergei Sorokin
Staining of Mitochondria with Neotetrazolium Chloride
American Journal of Botany, Vol. 43, No. 3 (March 1956), pp. 183-190

Helen P. Sorokin and Sergei Sorokin – American J of Botany, March 1956 (2)


Helen P. Sorokin
Studies on Living Cells of Pea Seedlings. I. Survey of Vacuolar Precipitates, Mitochondria, Plastids, and Spherosomes
American Journal of Botany, Vol. 43, No. 10 (December 1956), pp. 787-794

Helen P. Sorokin – American J of Botany, December 1956 (2)

Helen P. Sorokin
Studies on Living Cells of Pea Seedlings. II. Intercellular Tubular Matter
Helen P. Sorokin
American Journal of Botany, Vol. 45, No. 6 (June 1958), pp. 504-513

Helen P. Sorokin – American J of Botany, June 1958 (2)

Helen P. Sorokin, S. N. Mathur and Kenneth V. Thimann
The Effects of Auxins and Kinetin on Xylem Differentiation in the Pea Epicotyl
American Journal of Botany, Vol. 49, No. 5 (May-June 1962), pp. 444-454

Helen P. Sorokin et al. – American J of Botany, May-June 1962 (2)


Helen P. Sorokin
Why Should We Subscribe to a Translation of Doklady?
AIBS Bulletin, Vol. 12, No. 3 (June 1962), pp. 35-56

Helen P. Sorokin, ‘Why Should We Subscribe to a Translation of Doklady’ – AIBS Bulletin, June 1962 (2)

Helen P. Sorokin
The Destruction of Xylem by a Plasmodial Parasite in Seedlings of Pisum sativum
American Journal of Botany, Vol. 51, No. 3 (March 1964), pp. 299-306

Helen P. Sorokin – American J of Botany, March 1964 (2)


Helen P. Sorokin
The Spherosomes and the Reserve Fat in Plant Cells
American Journal of Botany, Vol. 54, No. 8 (September 1967), pp. 1008-1016

Helen P. Sorokin – American J of Botany, September 1967 (2)


— posted by Roger W. Smith

     February 2022

“Revolutionary Gardener”


“Revolutionary Gardener”

Faculty Profile

By Dennis E. Brown

The Harvard Crimson

May 1, 1954


One morning nearly five years after the Russian Revolution of 1917, an article headlined “Professor Sorokin” appeared in Pravda. Written by Lenin himself, the article stated that though Sorokin had never agreed with the Bolsheviks, he was a true revolutionary at heart. Russia, Lenin concluded, “needs his mind.”

To the man who had spent weeks in an over-crowded prison in north Russia, this statement meant an unexpected salvation. Each day between the hours of four and twelve, guards had entered his cellblock to read off a list of names. “This was a kindly invitation to be shot,” Sorokin recalls, and he adds that most of the prisoners were almost willing to accept. The prison conditions were bad, food was nearly as limited at space, and disease was a commonplace.

But once freed, Sorokin still refused to collaborate with the Bolsheviks and after several close escapes, managed to smuggle himself out of the country. “What a relief,” he recalls, “to cross the border and know that this time they could not come after me.” Sorokin’s last flight from Russia marked the end of an active, fifteen-year career as a revolutionary and gave him the opportunity to continue his work in sociology. Before leaving Russia in 1922, he had become prominent in both fields.

Sorokin usually attributes his early rise in Russia’s political and educational circles to “mistaken ideas about my ability” and “just plain luck.” To ability and chance, his friends would add firm conviction and a tenacity which has brought him both trouble, in the form of political imprisonment, and fame. “This is my stubbornness,” he says: “I regard it a man’s main duty to tell the truth as he sees it.”

As early as 1905, Professor Sorokin was telling his truths to factory workers and villagers in his own Russian district. The son of an artisan, he understood the working class, and because of his talents as an orator and pamphleteer, he soon became a top leader in the Social Revolutionary Party.

Underground Lessons

The years of political activity that followed were lessons in the technique of the underground. Police methods under the Tsars were comparatively lenient, he discovered, because the dying regime was old and soft. Often prisons became centers of revolutionary activity. But the “super heated Turkish bath” that followed 1917 was another matter. Sorokin had enjoyed a few months respite under the Kerensky government as secretary to the Prime Minister and editor of the party newspaper. When the Bolsheviks stormed the Petrograd Garrison, however, it meant that the other socialist parties would be again outlawed and persecuted.

Looking back at his experiences with the Bolsheviks, Sorokin remembers some lighter incidents, although he was hunted almost continually by the secret police. On one occasion, he was sentenced to Peter and Paul Prison where he found many of the elite from former regimes and parties. These old political enemies, from Tsarists to Anarchists, decided to issue prison society notes, which began “The social season at Peter and Paul resort opened brilliantly today . . . .”

At other times, it was harder to laugh. During one summer, Sorokin was forced to hide in the forests of northern Russia. Living off whatever food he could find, he remained there until the first snowfall drove him back to the cities.

Throughout the hardships that political activity caused in those times, Sorokin miraculously managed to pursue his studies in sociology. He was a prolific writer, and long before coming to the United States, had published several texts on the subject. In 1923 he came to this country with an invitation to teach at the University of Minnesota. Eight years later, President Lowell asked him to form the first Sociology Department at Harvard. The University had possessed a grant for such a department since 1906, and officials felt that in Sorokin, they at last had a man who could do the job.

Creative Altruism

His job, as chairman of the new department, lasted fourteen years. Professor Sorokin was only too glad to end what he calls his “Roosevelt term” and devote his time to a project he had long considered. A witness to the revolutions in Russia and two world wars, he had lived with violence and always opposed it. In his mind, the one hope for civilization was the development of man’s creative over his destructive impulses. To study the problem, he has established the Harvard Research Center in Creative Altruism.

Sorokin tackles his new work with the vigor of the young revolutionary who debated with Lenin and Trotsky. He has never lost the ability to support a cause he believes in, and does so in characteristically strong language. To his long list of writings, most of which have been translated into other languages, he has added several new volumes on altruism. Pointing proudly to a bulky, orange book on his desk, he remarked, “They are even writing books about my books now.”

His garden in Winchester is a source of pride almost equal to his literary accomplishments. Each year, nearly ten thousand visitors stop to admire the azaleas which he plants and tends alone. This season, as in the past, he predicts a bad year for the flowers, his last touch with the rural Russia of his youth. Almost unfailingly, however, the plants have survived oppressive frosts, and like their gardener, continue to grow.


— posted by Roger W. Smith

“the fact of stratification is universal”


Any organized social group is always a stratified social body. There has not been and does not exist any permanent social group which is “flat,” and in which all members are equal. Unstratified society, with a real equality of its members, is a myth which has never been realized in the history of mankind. …

Except, perhaps, the few cases where the members of a population are leading an isolated life, where no permanent social life and interaction exist, where, therefore, we do not have a social organization in the proper sense of the word, as soon as organization begins primitive social groups exhibit the trait of stratification. … Traditional opinion about primitive groups as communistic societies which do not have any commerce or private property, or economic inequality, or inheritance of fortune, are far from being correct. …

If we cannot find a non-stratified society among the most primitive groups, it is useless to try to find it among more advanced, larger and compound societies. Here, without any single exception, the fact of stratification is universal. … Among all agricultural and, especially, industrial societies social stratification has been conspicuous and clear. The modern democracies also do not present any exception to the rule. Though in their constitutions it is said that “all men are equal,” only a quite naive person may infer from this a non-existence of social stratification within these societies. It is enough to mention the gradations: from Henry Ford to a beggar; from the President of the United States to a policeman; from a foreman to the most subordinate worker; from the president of a university to a janitor; from an “LL.D.” or “Ph.D.” to a “B.A.”; from a “leading authority” to an average man; from a commander-in-chief of an army to a soldier; from a president of a board of directors of a corporation to its common laborer; from an editor-in-chief of a newspaper to a simple reporter; it is enough to mention these various ranks and social gradations to see that the best democracies have social stratification scarcely less than the non-democratic societies. …

Family, church, sect, political party, faction, business organization, gang of brigands, labor union, scientific society—in brief, any organized social group is stratified at the price of its permanency and organization. The organization even of groups of ardent levelers, and the permanent failure of all attempts to build a non-stratified group, testify to the imminency and unavoidability of stratification in an organized social group. This remark may appear somewhat strange to many people who, under the influence of high-sounding phraseology, may believe that, at least, the societies of the levelers themselves are non-stratified. This belief, as many another one, is utterly wrong. Different attempts to exterminate social feudalism have been successful, in the best cases, only in ameliorating some of the inequalities, and in changing the concrete forms of stratification. They have never succeeded in annihilating stratification itself. … all attempts of the most ardent levelers in the history of all countries have had the same fate. They could not avoid it even when the faction of the levelers has been victorious. The failure of the Russian Communism is only an additional example in a long series of similar experiments performed on small and large scale, sometimes peacefully, as in many religious sects, sometimes violently, as in social revolutions of the past and present. If many forms of stratification were destroyed for a moment, they regularly reappeared again in the old or in a modified form, often being built by the hands of the levelers themselves.

Present democracies and Socialist, Communist, Syndicalist, and other organizations, with their slogan of “equality” do not present any exception to the rule. In regard to democracies this has been shown above. … The enormous potential taste for inequality of numerous “levelers” becomes at once conspicuous, as soon, indeed, as they happen to be victorious. In such cases they often exhibit a greater cruelty and contempt toward the masses than former kings and rulers. This has been repeated regularly in victorious revolutions where the levelers become dictators. …

Social stratification is a permanent characteristic of any organized society.

Pitirim A. Sorokin, Social Mobility (1927). Chapter II


— posted by Roger W. Smith

       January 2022

Sorokin, “Opinions are not the rules for actions.”


See my post

“Opinions are not the rules for actions.”


“Opinions are not the rules for actions.”

Roger W. Smith

a recorded Sorokin lecture


I have always wanted to hear a recording of Sorokin lecturing and what his voice sounded like. I recall reading somewhere that his pronunciation in English was atrocious — it was something that, despite his linguistic skills, he never became proficient at.

Now, thanks to the Pitirim A. Sorokin Foundation, we have such a recording, available online at

This recording is from a Sorokin lecture entitled “The Mysterious Energy of Love” and is from an original tape that belonged to Sorokin. The recording is comprised of a fragment approximately ten minutes in length from the entire lecture, which was two and a half hours long.

The lecture was given in 1959 at an undisclosed university.

See transcript in my post

“The Mysterious Energy of Love”

“the mysterious energy of love”

— recorded by Roger W. Smith

     January 2022

Sorokin’s “The American Sex Revolution” now available in Italian translation





Just published:

Pitirim A. Sorokin

La rivoluzione sessuale americana

translated by Tommaso Allodi

introduction by Leonardo Allodi


Edizioni Cantagalli, 2021