The Place of the 1917 Explosion in Halifax Harbor in the History of Disaster Research: The Work of Samuel H. Prince

Dynes, Russell R.
Quarantelli, E. L.
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Disaster Research Center
The 1917 explosion in Halifax Harbor was important for a number of reasons. The interest here is the fact that this particular occasion became the focus of the first systematic social scientific study disaster. In October 1920, Samuel H. Prince published Catastrophe and Social Change, Based on a Sociological Study of the Halifax Disaster. That work was part of his Ph.D. work and the chair of his dissertation committee at Columbia University was F.H. Giddings. Since Giddings was a significant figure in the developing field of sociology, Prince’s study can be placed both within the context of sociological thought at the time as well as its place within the disaster research tradition which has evolved since his pioneering work.
Halifax Harbor , history , explosion , Samuel H. Prince