The Info List - William L. Langer

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William Leonard Langer (March 16, 1896 – December 26, 1977) was the chairman of the history department at Harvard University. He was on leave during World War II
World War II
as head of the Research and Analysis Branch of the Office of Strategic Services. He was a specialist on the diplomacy of the periods 1870-1900 and 1937-1941. He edited many books, including a series on European history, a large-scale reference book, and a university textbook.


1 Early life 2 Education and career 3 Later career

3.1 War service

4 Honors 5 Bibliography 6 References 7 External links

Early life[edit] Born in South Boston, Massachusetts, he was the second of three sons of recent German immigrants, Charles Rudolph and Johanna Rockenbach. His elder brother, Rudolf Ernest Langer, became a mathematician and his younger brother, Walter Charles Langer, a psychoanalyst.[4][7] When William was only three, his father died unexpectedly, leaving the family in difficult circumstances. Nevertheless, his mother, who supported the family by working as a dressmaker, made education a priority for her children. Education and career[edit] After studying at the Boston Latin School, Langer attended Harvard University. Langer was fluent in German, and taught German at Worcester Academy while furthering his own education with courses on international relations at Clark University. His job and education were interrupted by military service World War I. After the war, he returned to his studies and obtained his Ph.D.
in 1923. In 1921 he married Susanne Katherina Langer (née Knauth) who became a noted philosopher. They had two sons together before divorcing in 1942. He taught modern European history
European history
at Clark University
Clark University
for four years before accepting an assistant professorship at Harvard. In 1936 Langer became the first to hold the Archibald Coolidge
Archibald Coolidge
chair. Langer was remembered at Harvard especially for his History
132 course on modern European history, History
157 on the Ottoman Empire, and the graduate seminars held at his home.[8][9] With the help of other scholars during the 1930s, Langer completely revised the Epitome of History
by German Scholar Karl Ploetz. Langer's massive work was published in 1940 under the title An Encyclopedia of World History.[10] Its fifth edition (1972) is the last to be edited by Langer. Peter N. Stearns
Peter N. Stearns
and thirty other prominent historians edited the sixth edition, published in 2001. Stearns paid tribute to Langer's great achievement in the introduction to the new edition. Later career[edit] In 1957, Langer urged historians to expand their insights with techniques from modern psychology.[11] War service[edit] Langer was an enlisted man in the United States
United States
Army Chemical Service in World War I, and saw combat in a chemical weapons unit on the Western Front in France. He described the experience in a book he wrote with another man in his company.[6] During World War II, Langer served in the new Office of Strategic Services (OSS) as deputy chief and later chief of the Research and Analysis Branch until the end of the war. In correspondence he was identified as OSS 117,[12] a codename which entered French popular culture in 1949 for an unrelated iconic fictional character of books and film. He was special assistant for intelligence analysis to U.S. Secretary of State James F. Byrnes. In 1950 Langer organized the office of National Estimates in the newly established Central Intelligence Agency[13] After the war, Langer returned to academia, but from 1961 to 1977 he served on the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. Honors[edit] William Langer was awarded the Bancroft Prize in 1954. Postwar, both Harvard and Yale University
Yale University
awarded Langer LL.D. degrees as did the University of Hamburg
University of Hamburg
in 1955. Among his many involvements, Langer served as president of the American Historical Association
American Historical Association
for 1957. Bibliography[edit]

Langer, William L.; MacMullin, Robert Burns (1919). With "E" of the First Gas. Brooklyn: Holton printing co.  revised as: Gas and Flame in World War I
World War I
(1965) An Encyclopedia of World History: Ancient, Medieval, and Modern, Chronologically Arranged. © 1972, 1968, 1952, 1948, & 1940. The Franco-Russian Alliance 1890-1894 (1929) European Alliances and Alignments 1870-1890 (1931) The Diplomacy of Imperialism (1935) (two volumes) Our Vichy Gamble (1947) The Challenge to Isolation, 1937-1940 (1952) with S. Everett Gleason The Undeclared War, 1940-1941 (1953) with S. Everett Gleason Conyers Read, 1881-1959: Scholar, Teacher, Public Servant (M. and V. Dean, 1963) Political and Social Upheaval, 1832-1852 (1969)


^ "William Leonard Langer". Dictionary of American Biography (fee, via Fairfax County Public Library). New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 1995. Gale Document Number: GALEBT2310009409. Retrieved 2014-02-03.  Biography in Context. (subscription required) ^ Greer, William R. (July 19, 1985). "Susanne K. Langer, Philosopher, is Dead at 89". New York Times. Retrieved 2014-02-03.  ^ Vetter, Herbert, ed. (2007). Notable American Unitarians 1936-1961. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard Square library. pp. iii, 134. ISBN 978-0-6151-4784-0. Retrieved 2014-02-03.  ^ a b "William L. Langer: Historian of Diplomacy". Notable American Unitarians. Archived from the original on 2013-12-30. Retrieved 2014-02-03.  ^ "CIA’s Directorate of Intelligence Marks its 50th Anniversary". Central Intelligence Agency. November 4, 2002. Retrieved 2014-02-03. William Langer Award for outstanding analytic contributions to the DI. Langer - a distinguished scholar and pioneer OSS analyst - was the first chairman of CIA’s Office of National Estimates and later served on the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB). During his career, Langer demonstrated the feasibility of performing intelligence analysis by combining information from multiple intelligence collection disciplines, including imagery, signals intercepts, and human intelligence.  ^ a b "Gas and Flame in World War I: The New Weapons of Terror". George Washington University. Retrieved 2014-02-03. Langer served as an engineer in Company E of the 1st Gas Regiment, Chemical Warfare Service, of the U.S. Army.  ^ Waggoner, Walter H. (July 10, 1981). "Walter Langer is Dead at 82; Wrote Secret Study of Hitler". New York Times. Walter Langer was born in Boston on Feb. 9, 1899, the son of Charles Rudolph and Johanna Rockenbach Langer. He was a practicing psychoanalyst from the late 1930's until about 1960, and he was the brother of William L. Langer, the Harvard historian, and Rudolph Ernest Langer, chairman of the mathematics department at the University of Wisconsin.  ^ Kann, Peter R. (June 9, 1964). "Historian Langer Enters Retirement After 37 Years On Harvard Faculty". Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 2014-02-04.  ^ Ostro, Ernest A. (May 25, 1951). "Emeritus Professors Continue Work, Return from Retirement to Teach Fay Came Out of Retirement On Two-Day's Warning to Give History
132 for Langer". Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 2014-02-05.  ^ "Preface to the First Edition. 2001. The Encyclopedia of World History". Archived from the original on 2008-09-06. Retrieved 2014-02-04.  ^ Rogow, Arnold A. (September 8, 1985). "The World on a Couch". The New York Times.  (review of Gay, Peter. Freud for historians. ) ^ Petersen, Neal H. (ed.). "OSS Code Number Identifications". From Hitler's Doorstep: The Wartime Intelligence Reports of Allen Dulles, 1942-1945. Pennsylvania State University Press. p. 543. ISBN 0-271-01485-7. LCCN 95-34966. Retrieved 2014-02-03.  ^ "Minutes of Meeting held in Director's Conference Room ... at 1100 hours" (PDF). December 26, 1950. Retrieved 2014-02-03. William L. Langer, Asst. Dir. for National Estimates [non-primary source needed]

In and Out of the Ivory Tower: The Autobiography of William L. Langer (Neele Watson Academic Publications, 1977) ISBN 0-88202-177-X

External links[edit]

Harvard Square Library biography of William L. Langer

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)

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 64024337 LCCN: n50039256 ISNI: 0000 0001 2136 4100 GND: 139962328 SUDOC: 028680367 BNF: cb120466022 (data) BIBSYS: 90376