Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr.: American historian (1888 - 1965) | Biography, Bibliography, Facts, Information, Career, Wiki, Life
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Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr.
American historian

Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr.

Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr.
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American historian
Was Historian Professor Educator Writer
From United States of America
Field Academia Literature Social science
Gender male
Birth 27 February 1888, Xenia, USA
Death 30 October 1965, Cambridge, United Kingdom (aged 77 years)
Star sign Pisces
Children: Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.
Ohio State University
Columbia University
The details (from wikipedia)


Arthur Meier Schlesinger Sr. (/ˈʃlɛsɪnər/; February 27, 1888 – October 30, 1965) was an American historian who taught at Harvard University, pioneering social history and urban history. He was a Progressive Era intellectual who stressed material causes (such as economic profit and conflict between businessmen and farmers) and downplayed ideology and values as motivations for historical actors. He was highly influential as a director of PhD dissertations at Harvard for three decades, especially in the fields of social, women's, and immigration history. His son, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. (1917–2007), also taught at Harvard and was a noted historian.

Life and career

Schlesinger's father, Bernhard Schlesinger, was a Prussian Jew, and his mother, Kate (née Feurle), was an Austrian Catholic. The two converted to Protestantism together and emigrated to Xenia, Ohio, in 1872.

He was born in Xenia, Ohio, and graduated from The Ohio State University in 1910. While a student at Ohio State, he was initiated into the Ohio Zeta chapter of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. He took his Ph.D. in history at Columbia University, where he was influenced by both Herbert L. Osgood and Charles A. Beard. He taught at Ohio State and the University of Iowa before he joined the faculty of Harvard University as a professor of history in 1924, succeeded Frederick Jackson Turner and taught at Harvard until 1954. Harvard's Schlesinger Library in women's history is named after him and his wife, Elizabeth, a noted feminist. He became an editor of the New England Quarterly in 1928.

In Boston in 1929, city officials, under the leadership of James Curley, threatened to arrest Margaret Sanger if she spoke on birth control. In response, she stood on stage, silent with a gag over her mouth, while her speech was read by Schlesinger.

He enjoyed strong family ties and commitment. His two sisters, Olga and Marion Etna, became schoolteachers and made it possible for their three younger brothers (George, Arthur, and Hugo) to attend college graduating in engineering, history and law. One of his sons was born Arthur Bancroft Schlesinger and replaced his middle name with "Meier," adding Jr., later in life.

Schlesinger died at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.


He pioneered social history and urban history. He was a Progressive Era intellectual who stressed material causes (like economic profit) and downplayed ideology and values as motivations for historical actors. He was highly influential as a director of PhD dissertations at Harvard for three decades, especially in the fields of social, women's, and immigration history. He commented in 1922, "From reading history in textbooks one would think half of our population made only a negligible contribution to history." He promoted social history by co-editing the 13-volume History of American Life (1928–1943) series with Dixon Ryan Fox. These thick volumes, written by leading young scholars, mostly avoid politics, individuals, and constitutional issues. They instead focus on such topics as society, demographics, economic, housing, fashion, sports, education, and cultural life.

In "Tides of American Politics," a provocative essay in the Yale Review in 1939, he presented his cyclical view of history which identified irregular oscillations between liberal and conservative national moods, but it attracted few historians apart from his son. Schlesinger introduced the idea of polling historians to rank presidential greatness, which attracted much attention.

In an essay on "The Significance of Jacksonian Democracy" (in New Viewpoints in American History (1922)), Schlesinger drew attention to the fact that "while democracy was working out its destiny in the forests of the Mississippi Valley, the men left behind in the eastern cities were engaging in a struggle to establish conditions of equality and social well-being adapted to their special circumstances."

As a historian of the rise of the city in American life, he argued that for a full understanding of the Jacksonian democratic movement: "It is necessary to consider the changed circumstances of life of the common man in the new industrial centers of the East since the opening years of the nineteenth century." That was a challenge to the frontier thesis of his Harvard colleague Frederick Jackson Turner. In Schlesinger's essay, the common man of the Mississippi Valley and the common man of eastern industrialism stood uneasily side by side. Schlesinger characterized prejudice against Catholics as "the deepest bias in the history of the American people".

Schlesinger and his students took a group approach to history, sharply downplaying the role of individuals. Groups were defined by ethnicity (Germans, Irish, Jews, Italians, Hispanics, etc.) or by class (working class, middle class). Their model was that the urban environment, including the interaction with other groups, shaped their history and group outlook in deterministic fashion.


  • 1918 The Colonial Merchants and the American Revolution, 1763–1776 online
  • 1922 New Viewpoints in American History, historiographical essays online edition
  • 1925 Political and Social Growth of the American People, 1865–1940, with Homer C. Hockett; college textbook in numerous editions reviews
  • 1926 Political and Social History of the United States, 1829–1925; The Macmillan Company, New York
  • 1930 "A Critical Period in American Religion, 1875–1900," Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society 64 (1930–32) pp: 523–47.
  • 1933 The Rise of the City, 1878–1898 reviews
  • 1940. "The City in American History: Mississippi Valley Historical Review, Vol. 27, No. 1 (Jun., 1940), pp. 43–66 in JSTOR, highly influential article
  • 1941 "Patriotism Names the Baby," New England Quarterly, Vol. 14, No. 4 (Dec., 1941), pp. 611–618 in JSTOR
  • 1944 "Biography of a Nation of Joiners," American Historical Review, Vol. 50, No. 1 (Oct., 1944), pp. 1–25 in JSTOR
  • 1946 Learning How to Behave: A Historical Study of American Etiquette Books
  • 1949 Paths to the Present reviews
  • 1958 Prelude to Independence: The Newspaper War on Britain, 1764–1776
  • 1950 The American As Reformer.
  • 1954 "A Note on Songs as Patriot Propaganda 1765–1776," William and Mary Quarterly Vol. 11, No. 1 (Jan., 1954), pp. 78–88 in JSTOR
  • 1955 "Political Mobs and the American Revolution, 1765–1776," Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society' Vol. 99, No. 4 (Aug. 30, 1955), pp. 244–250 in JSTOR
  • 1963 In Retrospect: The History of a Historian, autobiography
  • 1968 Birth of the Nation: A Portrait of the American People on the Eve of Independence
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 15 May 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who was Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr.?
A: Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr. was an American historian, social critic, and public intellectual. He is best known for his work as a historian of the United States Progressive Era and for his biographies of American presidents, particularly Andrew Jackson.
Q: When was Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr. born and when did he die?
A: Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr. was born on February 27, 1888, and he died on October 30, 1965.
Q: What were some of Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr.'s major works?
A: Some of Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr.'s major works include "The Age of Jackson" (1945), "The Crisis of the Old Order: 1919–1933" (1957), and "The Coming of the New Deal: 1933–1935" (1958). He also wrote biographies on presidents such as Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Harry Truman.
Q: What did Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr. contribute to academia?
A: Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr. made significant contributions to academia by introducing the concept of "consensus history," which emphasized the overall agreement among historians about the American past, rather than focusing solely on conflicting interpretations. He also played a key role in establishing the history department at Harvard University as one of the leading centers for the study of American history.
Q: What was Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr.'s political philosophy?
A: Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr. was known for his liberal and progressive political philosophy. He believed in the power of government to play a positive role in addressing social and economic issues. He was also a strong advocate for civil liberties and individual rights.
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