Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Bryn Mawr, Montgomery County
Silvert was a leader in Latin American studies. The Latin American Studies Association has named its highest award after him.
Professor and author Kalman H. Silvert was born on March 10, 1921, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. He attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he studied political science and government. He received his Ph.D. in 1984. Throughout his career, Silvert wrote many texts discussing political theories; he also spent over eight years in Latin America researching for his books and teaching classes. Silvert passed away on June 15, 1976, in New York, New York.
Kalman Silvert was born on March 10, 1921, in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, to Henry Jacob and Ida Levine Silvert. He grew up with his family in Bryn Mawr and then relocated to Philadelphia, where he attended the University of Pennsylvania. Silvert studied political science and government. He received his B.A. in 1942 and then proceeded to earn his M.A. and Ph.D. in 1947 and 1984, respectively. Silver married Frieda Moskalik, a sociology lecturer, the summer that he graduated with his bachelor's degree. The couple had three sons together: Henry Morris, Benjamin Bela, and Alexander Manuel.
Silvert spent the majority of his teaching career as a professor of government, politics, and political science. While he taught many classes on those subjects, Silvert also entertained a special interest in studying Latin America. Many of Silvert's literary works are dedicated to social and governmental issues in Latin America, with several focusing on Chile. Throughout his career as a professor, Silvert taught classes at many colleges and universities, including Tulane University, Dartmouth College, New York University, University of Delaware, University of Buenos Aires, Harvard University, Brandeis University, and Boston University. He also spent time teaching and researching the governments of other countries specifically in Latin America (Chile, Guatemala, and Argentina). Kalman Silvert wrote many profound books based on his experiences with politics, government, and living in other countries. According to Contemporary Authors, Silvert lived in Latin America for over eight years during his writing and teaching career. At the end of one of Silvert's books, Man's Power, he writes, "there must be a broad recognition that the practice of freedom is the purpose of freedom, as the end of humanness is reached by being human." Man's Power was reviewed by Robert A Isaak from the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. Isaak includes a plethora of praises throughout the review, as well as one or two criticisms: "Kalman Silvert has written an excellent book on political theory and social conflict at the 'middle range' level," "at times the reader wishes that an important point has been clarified further, even at the cost of a few footnotes—there are only sixteen in the entire work," and "the chief value of the book is an example par excellence of theoretical synthesis based on years of empirical analysis in Latin America."
Another valuable book that Silvert wrote is entitled The Conflict Society: Reaction and Revolution in Latin America. This text is a collection of Silvert's essays and as well as field staff reports. John J. Finan of The Americas reviewed The Conflict Society; he stated, "although the title of Silvert's volume is somewhat pretentious, its subject matter is not and merits republication in a new edition." Since the book had originally been published in 1961, some chapters have been eliminated, while more chapters were also added. In 1966, The Conflict Society was revised and a new edition was released. Silvert wrote for the American Universities Field Staff, the Encyclopedia Britannica, and the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. He also wrote many journals, including Social Change, American Journal of Sociology, International Journal, American Behavioral Scientist, Economic Development and Cultural Change, and Sociological Review Monograph.
Kalman Silvert's life and career provided many people with insight on the government and the politics of our country and other countries. He died on June 15, 1976, in New York City. His memorial service was held at La Maison Francaise at New York University. Kalman Silvert's obituary was written by Laurence R. Birns, the Director of Council of on Hemispheric Affairs, and he stated, "[Silvert's] importance to Inter-American studies and social sciences cannot be exaggerated...As a person who loved the beautiful—be it in a violin or the possibilities of an oppressed life—his existence was our gift...his was a moral, a talmudic life."
Kalman Silvert worked throughout his life to help those in the Latin America countries, so it is fitting that his obituary politely requested that "in lieu of flowers donations may be sent to the Kalman H. Silvert Memorial Fund to assist refugees of oppressive regimes of the Southern Cone of Latin America."
The New Orleans Registered Voter. (with Leonard Reissman and Cliff Wing) New Orleans, LA: Tulane University, 1956.
A Study in Government: Guatemala. New Orleans, LA: Middle American Research Institute, Tulane University, 1954.
Education and the Social Meaning of Development: A Preliminary Statement. (with Frank Bonilla) New York: American Universities Field Staff, 1961.
The Conflict Society: Reaction and Revolution in Latin America. New Orleans, LA: Hauser Press, 1961.
Chile, Yesterday and Today. New York: Holt, 1965.
Man's Power: A Biased Guide to Political Thought. New York: Viking Press, 1970.
Fate, Chance, and Faith. (With Frieda M. Silvert). Hanover, NH: American Universities Field Staff, 1974.
Education, Class, and Nation: The Experience of Chile and Venezuela. (With Leonard Reissman). New York: Elsevier, 1976.
Education, Values, and the Possibilities for Social Change in Chile. (With Joel M. Jutkowitz). Philadelphia, PA: Institute for the Study of Human Issues, 1976.
The Reason for Democracy. New York: Viking Press, 1977.
Essays in Understanding Latin America. Philadelphia, PA: Institute for the Study of Human Issues, 1977.
Birns, Laurence R. "Silvert—Kalman H." New York Times 17 Jun. 1976. 38.
"Deaths: Silvert—Kalman H." New York Times 17 Jun. 1976. 38.
Isaak, Robert A. "Man's Power: A Biased Guide to Political Thought and Action, Review." Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. May 1971. 395. 248.
Finan, John J. "The Conflict Society: Reaction and Revolution in Latin America, Review." The Americas. Jan.1967. 23. 333.
Photo Credit: Peter S. Cleaves and Richard W. Dye. "Kalman Silvert in the Ford Foundation." Photograph. Licensed under Fair Use. Cropped to 4x3. Source: The LAFF Society. Source: Online Resource. Life After the Ford Foundation Newsletter.