A. Schlesinger Sr. Dead in Boston; Historian Was 77
Arthur M. Schlesinger Sr., Francis Lee Higginson Professor of History, emeritus, died Saturday in Peter Bent Brigham Hospital. A teacher at Harvard for thirty years, Schlesinger was a pioneering American social historian and a prominent intellectual figure among American liberals. He was 77.
His son, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., also held a history chair at Harvard before becoming an aide to President Kennedy.
Schlesinger led what he called in his last work "the shift from 'drum and trumpet history' to 'the history of culture, the real history of men and women.'" In the book, In Retrospect: the History of a Historian, he defined social history as an effort to "grasp and depict both the inner and outer life of society and to integrate the two."
Donald H. Fleming, chairman of the History Department, said yesterday, "More than any other man, he established the idea of social history in the universities, not only through his teaching at Harvard but also through his students at other institutions." His former students include Fleming, Oscar Handlin, Winthrop Professor of History, Paul H. Puck, University Professor, and two past presidents of the American Historical Association, Merie E. Curti '20 and Carl Bridenbaugh.
"Arthur Schlesinger and I called ourselves the academic twins because we were appointed full professors the name day in 1925 and retired the same day thirty years later." Samuel Eliot Morison '08 professor of History, emeritus recalled yesterday. "He was a great teacher, a great scholar, and a wonderful colleague and friend. His book New Viewpoints in American History broke new ground for our generation of scholars, and nobody did more by personal attention and individual effort to interest students in American history."
Schlesinger co-edited The History of American Life, a highly influential series of studies in social history that appeared between 1927 and 1944. His own contribution to the series, The Rise of the City, stimulated new interest in the study of urban history.
Other important books by Schlesinger include The Colonial Merchants and the American Revolution 1918, Political and Social History of the United States (1925), and Prelude to independence: The Newspaper War on Britain (1958). He was a co-author of the Harvard Guide to American History.
Born in Xenia, Ohio, in 1888, Schlesinger received his A.B. from Ohio State and his Ph.D. from Columbia. He taught at Ohio State and the University of Iowa before coming to Harvard in 1924.
Schlesinger, who was chairman of the History Department from 1928 to 1930, found at Harvard "an unceasing spirit of revolt against repose." He was himself responsible for much of that spirit, participating in the development of the general education program and the Nieman Foundation.
A Smith Democrat in 1928. Schlesinger became a close friend of Felix Frankfurter and James M. Landis at the Law School, and warmly supported the New Deal. In later years he helped organize the Massachusetts chapter of Americans for Democratic Action, chaired the United Labor Committee of Massachusetts, and campaigned against Red-hunting Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin and William Jenner of Indiana.
Memorial services for Professor Schlesinger will be held at 4 p.m. today at Memorial Church. Friends and colleagues will speak