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Driver, Edwin D.

Just 23 years old in the fall 1948, Edwin Douglas Driver was hired by the Sociology Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, becoming the first person of non-European descent to join the faculty and, along with Ruby Pernell of the University of Minnesota, one of the first two African Americans hired onto the faculty of a state flagship university in the twentieth century.[1]

Born in Gloucester, Virginia, Driver received his BA from Temple University and MA from the University of Pennsylvania before being hired as an Instructor at UMass in 1948, following a brief tenure with Philadelphia's Department of Public Assistance.[2] Two years after being oromoted to Assistant Professor in 1954, he received his doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania for Administrative Control of Deviant Conduct of Physicians in New York and Massachusetts. One of 64 additions to the faculty in 1948, Driver's appointment at UMass coincided with the massive influx of veterans on campus as the end of the Second World War and the concomitant expansion of the curriculum to meet the changing interests of the students. Driver spent his entire career at UMass Amherst, earning emeritus status upon his retirement in 1987.

Driver married Aloo Jhabvala (1927-2014), a native of Mumbai, India, while she was studying at Smith College. A sociologist like her husband, and the child of an academic family, Aloo Driver received her doctorate from Columbia and began her career at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is noted for having introduced the first Asian language course to the university, Hindi, in 1962, but left UMass for American International College in 1969. The Drivers had three children, who have followed in academic distinction.

Over his career, Edwin Driver worked on a range of issues in sociology, including criminality, mental illness, population, and urbanization, and from about 1960 on, he specialized in the study of south and central India. Among his many publications were Differential fertility in Central India (1963), The sociology and anthropology of mental illness: a reference guide (1965), W. E. B. Du Bois on sociology and the Black community, edited with his colleague Dan S. Green (1978), and Social class in urban India: essays on cognitions and structures, edited with his wife Aloo E. Driver (1987).


1. JBHE Chronology of Major Landmarks in the Progress of African Americans in Higher Education, Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. Accessed June 5, 2016.

2. Collegian profile no. 31, Massachusetts Daily Collegian Dec. 8, 1949.

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