Allen D. Grimshaw


IU Foundation President's Medallion (2008)
American Association for the Advancement of Science (1972)
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Indiana University Bloomington
College of Arts and Sciences
Department of Sociology


Allen Day Grimshaw, Professor of Sociology Emeritus at Indiana University-Bloomington, died June 15, 2011. He was born December 16, 1929, in New York City. He attended high school in Auburn, IN, and began his undergraduate studies in engineering at Purdue University. He completed the AB degree in anthropology and sociology in 1950 at the University of Missouri and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. After service in the Air Force, Allen took his PhD at the University in Pennsylvania in 1959 with a dissertation on urban race riots. He joined the faculty at Indiana University-Bloomington in 1959 as Instructor and retired as Professor of Sociology in 1994.

Allen was a prolific writer, authoring or editing eight books and publishing more than 90 scholarly articles, anchored by the broad themes of peace and justice. Early in his career, Allen's research centered on social conflict and violence, leading to the volume Racial Violence in the United States (Aldine, 1969). His work later took a cross-cultural turn after fieldwork in India, culminating in a co-edited book, Comparative Social Research (Wiley, 1973).

Allen's international fieldwork experiences were the genesis of his keen appreciation of the importance of language for social life - and thus for social research. As co-chair of the Social Science Research Council's Committee on Sociolinguistics, he took on the challenge of educating sociologists, linguists, and linguistic anthropologists about what they could learn from each other. Allen saw language as a critical but often taken-for-granted resource for studies of inequality, conflict resolution, and social interaction. His papers on these subjects were published in Language as Social Resource (Stanford, 1981). Allen combined his interests in social conflict and language in his widely cited, edited volume Conflict Talk (Cambridge, 1990).

Later, Allen turned his attention to professional discourse, and embarked on an influential research project where scholars from different disciplines were asked to analyze the same transcript of a doctoral dissertation defense. The result was publication of the monograph Collegial Discourse: Professional Conversation Among Peers (Ablex, 1989) and the edited volume What's Going on Here? Complementary Studies of Professional Talk (Ablex, 1994), which continue to be major contributions to the field of sociolinguistics.

Allen taught undergraduate or graduate courses on language, social conflict, social psychology, cross-cultural research methods, the city in India, and war as a social problem. He was named a Lilly Foundation Teaching Fellow in 1983-84. He chaired numerous committees of the American Sociological Association and served as editor of the American Sociologist and as associate editor of the American Sociological Review and Sociometry.