The Info List - Allan Nevins

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Joseph Allan Nevins[1] (May 20, 1890 – March 5, 1971) was an American historian and journalist, known for his extensive work on the history of the Civil War and his biographies of such figures as Grover Cleveland, Hamilton Fish, Henry Ford, and John D. Rockefeller, as well as his public service. He was a leading exponent of business history and oral history.


1 Early and family life and education 2 Career 3 Death and legacy 4 Published work

4.1 Ordeal of the Union 4.2 John D. Rockefeller 4.3 John F. Kennedy 4.4 Major books

5 Notes 6 Further reading 7 External links

Early and family life and education[edit] Nevins was born in Camp Point, Illinois, the son of Emma (née Stahl) and Joseph Allan Nevins, whom he later described as a stern Presbyterian
farmer.[2][3][4][5] His father was of Scottish heritage and his mother German.[2] After education in local public schools, Nevins attended the University of Illinois, where he earned an M.A. in English in 1913. He married Mary Fleming (Richardson) in 1916, and the couple had two daughters, Anne Elizabeth and Meredith. Career[edit] Nevins wrote his first book, The Life of Robert Rogers (1914) (about a Colonial American frontiersman and Loyalist) and a history of the University of Illinois
University of Illinois
(1917) during his postgraduate studies in that institution. Nevins then accepted positions with the New York Evening Post
New York Evening Post
and The Nation and worked as a journalist in New York City
New York City
for twenty years, as well as continued writing and editing history books. He resigned from the Nation in 1918, and the Post about a year after publishing its history The Evening Post: A Century of Journalism
in 1922. In 1923 Nevins published American Social History as Recorded by British Travellers (reissued as America through British Eyes in 1957) and The American States During and After the Revolution, 1775–1789 in 1924. In 1924 Nevins resigned from the Post to become literary editor of the New York Sun
New York Sun
and about a year later gave up that position to become an editorial writer with the New York World. Nevins continued extensive private research in the New York Public Library
New York Public Library
and published The Emergence of Modern America, 1865–1878 in 1927, and a biography of explorer John Charles Frémont, Frémont: The West's Greatest Adventurer in 1928. During a leave of absence from his newspaper job, Nevins spent a term teaching American History at Cornell University.[3][6] As a journalist, Nevins covered the campaigns of Al Smith. After the 1928 Presidential Campaign which he covered for Walter Lippmann, Nevins grew dismayed at what he perceived as intolerance and provincialism, religious bigotry and racial prejudice in the American South, which as a historian he contrasted to religious freedom and separation of church and state that the same region had brought to the new nation in the revolutionary era.[7] In 1929, Nevins joined the history faculty of Columbia University, where he remained for three decades until his mandatory retirement in 1958. In 1931 he gave up his journalism job in order to become a full-time faculty member and in 1939 succeeded Evarts Boutell Greene (his teacher at Illinois and mentor at Columbia), as the Dewitt Clinton Professor of History. His major works during this period included: Grover Cleveland: A Study in Courage (1932, which won his first Pulitzer Prize), History of the Bank of New York and Trust Company, 1784-1934 (1934), Hamilton Fish: The Inner Story of the Grant Administration (1936, which won his second Pulitzer Prize), The Gateway to History (1938), a two volume biography of John D. Rockefeller, The Heroic Age of American Enterprise (1940; rewritten and expanded as A Study in Power: John D. Rockefeller, Industrialist and Philanthropist in 1953). During World War II, Professor Nevins taught (as Harmsworth Professor of American History) at Oxford University
Oxford University
from 1940 to 1941. In 1942, he published America: The Story of A Free People (with Henry Steele Commager, reworked and republished in 1954). Nevins served as special representative of the Office of War Information
Office of War Information
in Australia
and New Zealand in 1943-1944, and in 1945-1946 worked in London
as chief public affairs officer at the American embassy. Upon returning to Columbia, Nevins began working on a multi-volume series on the American Civil War. The first volume The Ordeal of Union (1947) won the Bancroft Prize and a $10,000 Scribners Literary Prize. In 1948 Nevins created the first oral history program to operate on an institutionalized basis in the U.S., which continues as Columbia University's Center for Oral History. In addition to publishing four more volumes of the Civil War series, Nevins reworked the Rockefeller biography to cast a more favorable light upon the magnate. In 1954 with Frank Hill, Nevins published the first of a three-volume biography of Henry Ford
Henry Ford
and the Ford Motor Company, Ford: The Times, the Man, and the Company. From May 6, 1938 until August 18, 1957, Nevins hosted a 15-minute radio show Adventures in Science, which covered a wide variety of medical and scientific topics, and was broadcast as a segment of CBS' Adult Education Series various days, usually in the late afternoon. After retiring from Columbia, Nevins relocated to California, where he worked as senior researcher at the Huntington Library
Huntington Library
in San Marino, and also returned to Oxford from 1964 to 1965. Nevins also publicly supported John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
in the 1960 Presidential Campaign and wrote an introduction for Kennedy's Profiles in Courage. Nevins headed the national Civil War Centennial Commission, edited its 15-volume Impact series and finished the final volumes of his eight volume series on the American Civil War. He also published Herbert H. Lehman
Herbert H. Lehman
and His Era (1963) and James Truslow Adams: Historian
of the American Dream (1968). As a historian, Nevins supervised more than 100 doctoral dissertations, published over 50 books and possibly more than 1000 articles, as well as serving as president of the American Historical Association, the Society of American Historians, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Death and legacy[edit] Nevins died in Menlo Park, California, in 1971. He was buried at Kensico Cemetery in Westchester County, New York.[8] The last two volumes of his Civil War series won the U.S. National Book Award in History in 1972. Historians including Ray Allen Billington compiled Allan Nevins
Allan Nevins
on History (1975) to celebrate his accomplishments. His granddaughter Jane Mayer
Jane Mayer
also became a journalist. The Society of American Historians awards an Allan Nevins
Allan Nevins
prize annually in his honor. Published work[edit] Nevins wrote more than 50 books, mainly political and business history and biography focusing on the nineteenth century, in addition to his many newspaper and academic articles. The hallmarks of his books were his extensive, in-depth research and a vigorous, almost journalistic writing style. Subjects of his biographies included: Grover Cleveland, Abram Hewitt, Hamilton Fish, Henry Ford, John C. Frémont, Herbert Lehman, John D. Rockefeller, and Henry White. The biographies cover United States
United States
political, economic and diplomatic history of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His biography of Grover Cleveland
Grover Cleveland
won the 1933 Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
for Biography or Autobiography, as did his biography of Hamilton Fish
Hamilton Fish
four years later. Nevins also published an annotated diary of President James K. Polk, and a volume of Cleveland's correspondence spanning the years 1850-1908. Ordeal of the Union[edit] Nevins' greatest work was Ordeal of the Union (1947–71), an 8-volume comprehensive history of the coming of the Civil war, and the war itself. (He died before he could address Reconstruction, and thus his masterwork ends in 1865.) It remains the most detailed political, economic and military narrative of the era. Nevins's Ordeal of the Union has a slight but perceptible pro-Union bias, just as Shelby Foote's three-volume masterwork has a slight but perceptible bias towards the Confederacy.[citation needed] The last two volumes jointly won the 1972 U.S. National Book Award in History.[9] Nevins also planned and helped to edit a pioneering 13-volume series exploring American social history, "A History of American Life". His biographer explained Nevins' style:

Nevins used narrative not only to tell a story but to propound moral lessons. It was not his inclination to deal in intellectual concepts or theories, like many academic scholars. He preferred emphasizing practical notions about the importance of national unity, principled leadership, [classical] liberal politics, enlightened journalism, the social responsibility of business and industry, and scientific and technical progress that added to the cultural improvement of humanity.[10]

John D. Rockefeller[edit] Nevins wrote several books on John D. Rockefeller
John D. Rockefeller
and the Rockefeller family, including a two-volume authorized biography of John D. Rockefeller. Business journalist Ferdinand Lundberg
Ferdinand Lundberg
later criticized Nevins for deferring to power and thereby misleading readers.[11] By contrast, historian Priscilla Roberts argues that his studies of inventors and businessmen brought about a reassessment of American industrialization and its leaders.. She writes:

Nevins argued that economic development in the United States
United States
caused relatively little human suffering, while raising the general standard of living and making the United States
United States
the great industrial power capable of defeating Germany in both world wars. The great capitalists of that period should, he argued, be viewed, not as "robber barons," but as men whose economic self-interest had played an essentially, positive role in American history, and who had done nothing criminal by the standards of their time.[12]

In contending that Rockefeller did "nothing criminal," in light of his central role in the Ludlow Massacre, Nevins seems to have equated non-prosecution with innocence.[13] Historians and biographers who followed Nevins' lead include Jean Strouse, Ron Chernow, David Nasaw, and T. J. Stiles, chronicling the lives and careers of such figures as J. Pierpont Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and Cornelius Vanderbilt. Though these later biographers did not confer heroic status on their subjects, they used historical and biographical investigations to establish a more complex understanding of the American past, and the history of American economic development in particular. John F. Kennedy[edit] An enthusiastic supporter of then-Senator John F. Kennedy,[citation needed] Nevins wrote the foreword to the inaugural edition of Kennedy's Profiles in Courage. He also joined his friend, frequent co-editor, and Columbia colleague Henry Steele Commager in organizing "Professors for Kennedy", a political advocacy group in the 1960 presidential election. In the late 1960s Nevins and Commager parted ways over the issue of the Vietnam War, a war that Commager opposed on constitutional grounds, while Nevins thought it necessary in the Cold War against Communism. Major books[edit] Many of the titles are available free online here

The Evening Post; a Century of Journalism
(1922), history of the NYC newspaper online The American States During and After the Revolution, 1775-1789 (1927) online Questia edition; online free A History of American Life vol. VIII: The Emergence of Modern America 1865-1878 (1927) Frémont, the West's Greatest Adventurer; being a biography from certain hitherto unpublished sources of General John C. Frémont, together with his wife, Jessie Benton Frémont, and some account of the period of expansion which found a brilliant leader in the Pathfinder (1928) online edition Polk: The Diary of President, 1845–1849, covering the Mexican war, the acquisition of Oregon, and the conquest of California
and the Southwest (1929) Henry White: Thirty Years of American Diplomacy (1930) Grover Cleveland: A Study in Courage (1932). Won the 1933 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography.[14] Letters of Grover Cleveland, 1850–1908 (1933) Dictionary of American Biography (1934–36); Nevins wrote 40 articles on Alexander Hamilton, Rutherford B. Hayes, Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, etc. Abram S. Hewitt: With Some Account of Peter Cooper (1935) Hamilton Fish; The Inner History of the Grant Administration (1936) online edition vol 1 online edition vol 2 The Gateway to History 1938. online edition John D. Rockefeller: The Heroic Age of American Enterprise. 2 vols. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons (1940) The Emergence of Modern America, 1865-1878 (1941) Ordeal of the Union (1947–1971)

1. Fruits of Manifest Destiny, 1847–1852; 2. A House Dividing, 1852–1857; 3. Douglas, Buchanan, and Party Chaos, 1857–1859; 4. Prologue to Civil War, 1859–1861; 5. The Improvised War, 1861–1862; 6. War Becomes Revolution, 1862–1863; 7. The Organized War, 1863–1864; 8. The Organized War to Victory, 1864–1865

Study In Power: John D. Rockefeller, Industrialist and Philanthropist. 2 vols. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. (1953) Ford with the collaboration of Frank Ernest Hill. 3 vols. (1954–1963)


^ http://www.bookrags.com/biography/joseph-allan-nevins-dlb/ ^ a b Immersed in Great Affairs - Allan Nevins
Allan Nevins
and the Heroic Age of American History by Gerald L. Fetner January 2004 - SUNY Press ^ a b http://biography.yourdictionary.com/allan-nevins ^ http://www.bookrags.com/biography/allan-nevins/ ^ http://dig.lib.niu.edu/ISHS/ishs-1973summer/ishs-1973summer-177.pdf[permanent dead link] ^ http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/411107/Allan-Nevins ^ Gerald L. Fetner, Immersed in Great Affairs: Allan Nevins
Allan Nevins
and the Heroic Age of American History. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2004. p. 41. ^ Allan Nevins
Allan Nevins
at Find a Grave
Find a Grave
^ "National Book Awards – 1972". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-17. ^ Gerald L. Fetner. Immersed in Great Affairs: Allan Nevins
Allan Nevins
and the Heroic Age of American History. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2004. p. 4. ^ Ferdinand Lundberg. The Rockefeller Syndrome. New York: Lyle Stuart, 1975. p. 145. ^ Priscilla M, Roberts, "Nevins, Allan" in Kelly Boyd, ed. (1999). Encyclopedia of Historians and Historical Writing, vol. 2. Taylor & Francis. p. 869. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link) ^ The Ludlow Massacre
Ludlow Massacre
still matters, The New Yorker, Ben Mauk, April 18, 2014. Retrieved December 26, 2017. ^ books.google.com

Further reading[edit]

Fetner, Gerald L. Immersed in Great Affairs: Allan Nevins
Allan Nevins
and the Heroic Age of American History (State University of New York Press. 2004). 243pp; scholarly biography. excerpt Krout, John A. "Allan Nevins--An Appreciation" pp v-vii in Donald Sheehan and Harold C. Syrett, eds. Essays in American Historiography: Papers Presented in Honor of Allan Nevins
Allan Nevins
(1962) online Middlekauff, Robert. "Telling the Story of the Civil War: Allan Nevins as a Narrative Historian." The Huntington Library
Huntington Library
Quarterly (1993): 67-81. in JSTOR Tingley, Donald F. "Allan Nevins: A Reminiscence." Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 66.2 (1973): 177-186.

External links[edit]

Works by or about Allan Nevins
Allan Nevins
at Internet Archive

v t e

Presidents of the American Historical Association


Andrew Dickson White
Andrew Dickson White
(1884-85) George Bancroft
George Bancroft
(1886) Justin Winsor
Justin Winsor
(1887) William Frederick Poole
William Frederick Poole
(1888) Charles Kendall Adams
Charles Kendall Adams
(1889) John Jay (1890) William Wirt Henry (1891) James Burrill Angell
James Burrill Angell
(1892-93) Henry Adams
Henry Adams
(1893-94) George Frisbie Hoar
George Frisbie Hoar
(1895) Richard Salter Storrs
Richard Salter Storrs
(1896) James Schouler (1897) George Park Fisher (1898) James Ford Rhodes
James Ford Rhodes
(1899) Edward Eggleston
Edward Eggleston


Charles Francis Adams Jr.
Charles Francis Adams Jr.
(1901) Alfred Thayer Mahan
Alfred Thayer Mahan
(1902) Henry Charles Lea
Henry Charles Lea
(1903) Goldwin Smith
Goldwin Smith
(1904) John Bach McMaster
John Bach McMaster
(1905) Simeon Eben Baldwin
Simeon Eben Baldwin
(1906) J. Franklin Jameson (1907) George Burton Adams (1908) Albert Bushnell Hart
Albert Bushnell Hart
(1909) Frederick Jackson Turner
Frederick Jackson Turner
(1910) William Milligan Sloane
William Milligan Sloane
(1911) Theodore Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
(1912) William Archibald Dunning (1913) Andrew C. McLaughlin
Andrew C. McLaughlin
(1914) H. Morse Stephens
H. Morse Stephens
(1915) George Lincoln Burr
George Lincoln Burr
(1916) Worthington C. Ford (1917) William Roscoe Thayer
William Roscoe Thayer
(1918-19) Edward Channing (1920) Jean Jules Jusserand
Jean Jules Jusserand
(1921) Charles Homer Haskins
Charles Homer Haskins
(1922) Edward Potts Cheyney
Edward Potts Cheyney
(1923) Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
(1924) Charles McLean Andrews
Charles McLean Andrews


Dana Carleton Munro
Dana Carleton Munro
(1926) Henry Osborn Taylor (1927) James Henry Breasted
James Henry Breasted
(1928) James Harvey Robinson
James Harvey Robinson
(1929) Evarts Boutell Greene (1930) Carl L. Becker (1931) Herbert Eugene Bolton
Herbert Eugene Bolton
(1932) Charles A. Beard
Charles A. Beard
(1933) William Dodd (1934) Michael Rostovtzeff
Michael Rostovtzeff
(1935) Charles Howard McIlwain (1936) Guy Stanton Ford (1937) Laurence M. Larson (1938) William Scott Ferguson (1939) Max Farrand
Max Farrand
(1940) James Westfall Thompson (1941) Arthur M. Schlesinger Sr. (1942) Nellie Neilson (1943) William Linn Westermann
William Linn Westermann
(1944) Carlton J. H. Hayes (1945) Sidney Bradshaw Fay (1946) Thomas J. Wertenbaker
Thomas J. Wertenbaker
(1947) Kenneth Scott Latourette
Kenneth Scott Latourette
(1948) Conyers Read (1949) Samuel Eliot Morison
Samuel Eliot Morison


Robert Livingston Schuyler (1951) James G. Randall (1952) Louis R. Gottschalk (1953) Merle Curti (1954) Lynn Thorndike
Lynn Thorndike
(1955) Dexter Perkins (1956) William L. Langer (1957) Walter Prescott Webb
Walter Prescott Webb
(1958) Allan Nevins
Allan Nevins
(1959) Bernadotte Everly Schmitt (1960) Samuel Flagg Bemis (1961) Carl Bridenbaugh (1962) Crane Brinton (1963) Julian P. Boyd (1964) Frederic C. Lane (1965) Roy Franklin Nichols (1966) Hajo Holborn (1967) John K. Fairbank (1968) C. Vann Woodward
C. Vann Woodward
(1969) Robert Roswell Palmer (1970) David M. Potter (1971) Joseph Strayer (1971) Thomas C. Cochran (1972) Lynn Townsend White Jr. (1973) Lewis Hanke (1974) Gordon Wright (1975)


Richard B. Morris (1976) Charles Gibson (1977) William J. Bouwsma (1978) John Hope Franklin (1979) David H. Pinkney (1980) Bernard Bailyn (1981) Gordon A. Craig
Gordon A. Craig
(1982) Philip D. Curtin (1983) Arthur S. Link (1984) William H. McNeill (1985) Carl Neumann Degler (1986) Natalie Zemon Davis
Natalie Zemon Davis
(1987) Akira Iriye (1988) Louis R. Harlan (1989) David Herlihy (1990) William Leuchtenburg (1991) Frederic Wakeman (1992) Louise A. Tilly (1993) Thomas C. Holt (1994) John Henry Coatsworth (1995) Caroline Bynum (1996) Joyce Appleby (1997) Joseph C. Miller (1998) Robert Darnton
Robert Darnton
(1999) Eric Foner
Eric Foner


William Roger Louis (2001) Lynn Hunt (2002) James M. McPherson
James M. McPherson
(2003) Jonathan Spence (2004) James J. Sheehan
James J. Sheehan
(2005) Linda K. Kerber (2006) Barbara Weinstein (2007) Gabrielle M. Spiegel (2008) Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
(2009) Barbara D. Metcalf (2010) Anthony Grafton
Anthony Grafton
(2011) William Cronon
William Cronon
(2012) Kenneth Pomeranz
Kenneth Pomeranz
(2013) Jan E. Goldstein (2014) Vicki L. Ruiz (2015) Patrick Manning (2016) Tyler E. Stovall (2017) Mary Beth Norton (2018)

v t e

Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
for Biography or Autobiography (1926–1950)

Harvey Cushing
Harvey Cushing
(1926) Emory Holloway (1927) Charles Edward Russell
Charles Edward Russell
(1928) Burton J. Hendrick (1929) Marquis James
Marquis James
(1930) Henry James (1931) Henry F. Pringle (1932) Allan Nevins
Allan Nevins
(1933) Tyler Dennett (1934) Douglas S. Freeman
Douglas S. Freeman
(1935) Ralph Barton Perry (1936) Allan Nevins
Allan Nevins
(1937) Odell Shepard/ Marquis James
Marquis James
(1938) Carl Van Doren (1939) Ray Stannard Baker
Ray Stannard Baker
(1940) Ola Elizabeth Winslow (1941) Forrest Wilson (1942) Samuel Eliot Morison
Samuel Eliot Morison
(1943) Carleton Mabee (1944) Russel Blaine Nye (1945) Linnie Marsh Wolfe (1946) William Allen White
William Allen White
(1947) Margaret Clapp
Margaret Clapp
(1948) Robert E. Sherwood
Robert E. Sherwood
(1949) Samuel Flagg Bemis (1950)

Complete list (1917–1925) (1926–1950) (1951–1975) (1976–2000) (2001–2025)

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 39412796 LCCN: n50004624 ISNI: 0000 0001 2128 8750 GND: 12929876X SUDOC: 029822718 BNF: cb121367923 (data) NLA: 35381156 NDL: 00451192 NKC: jn20010602651 BNE: XX1047