Edward Franklin Frazier, the son of a bank messenger, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on 24th September, 1894. After graduating from Howard University he taught mathematics, history and modern languages at the Tuskegee Institute (1916-17), St. Paul's Industrial School (1917-18) and Baltimore High School (1918-19).
In 1919 Frazier returned to his studies and the following year obtained a M.A. degree in sociology from Clark University. He went on to teach sociology at the New York School of Social Work (1920-21), the University of Copenhagen (1921-22) and Atlanta University (1922-27).
Frazier published a series of articles on African American life and his Ph.D. dissertation, The Negro Family in Chicago, was published in 1932. Critics claimed that it was the most important study since The Philadelphia Negro was published by William Du Bois in 1899.
Frazier became research professor of sociology at Fisk University (1927-34) before becoming head of the sociology department in Howard University in 1934. While in this post he published his most important work, The Negro Family in the United States (1939). The book was an analysis of the history of the African American family since the 18th century. This included the impact of slavery, segregation, racial discrimination and migration on the family.
Frazier's most controversial book was his study of the African American middle class, Black Bourgeoisie (1957). Later he summed up the critical reviews he had received: "In some of the scholarly reviews as well as in the serious journals of opinion there was either an implicit or explicit criticism that the book exhibited anger or lack of sympathy in its stark objectivity. A leading political analyst said that the book was cruel because if Negroes were happy in their world of make-believe, why should I feel it was my duty to let them know the truth about their real position in the United States?"
A strong supporter of African American civil rights Frazier supported his mentor, William Du Bois, when he was being denounced as a traitor during the McCarthy Era. Edward Franklin Frazier died on 17th May, 1962.