Frederick Jackson Turner Biography

Frederick Jackson Turner (November 14, 1861–March 14, 1932) was distinguished more for a seminal idea than for any particular work. He received his PhD at Johns Hopkins University in 1890, and taught first at the University of Wisconsin from 1889 to 1910 then at Harvard until 1924. His paper on “The Significance of the Frontier in American History,” first presented at the 1893 AHA meeting held in Chicago, revolutionized the study of U.S. expansion and would serve as a catalyst for wide-ranging explorations in social and economic history for decades to come. The “frontier thesis,” as it came to be known, proposed that the peoples of the United States had developed a unique character and more democratic politics because immigrants were able to acquire land of their own on an unfolding frontier through the 18th and 19th centuries. This subject oriented his subsequent work, as in the address above, and in works such as Rise of the New West, 1819–1829 (1906), The Frontier in American History (1920), and The United States: 1830–1850 (1935).


Outline studies in the history of the Northwest, prepared by Frederick J. Turner. Chicago: C.H. Kerr, 1888.

A half century of American politics, 1789-1840. Madison, Tracy, Gibbs & co., printers, 1894.

The significance of the frontier in American history, by Frederick Jackson Turner (From Proceedings of the forty-first annual meeting of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin) Madison, State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1894. The frontier in American history / Frederick Jackson Turner. New York : Dover Publications, 1996.

The West as a field for historical study. Madison, State historical society of Wisconsin, 1897

The policy of France towards the Mississippi Valley in the period of Washington and Adams. New York, 1905.

The colonization of the West, 1820-1830. New York, 1906.

Rise of the new West, 1819-1829, by Frederick Jackson Turner. New York and London: Harper & brothers, 1906; Reprint, Gloucester, Mass., P. Smith, 1961.

Is sectionalism in America dying away? By Professor Frederick J. Turner. Chicago: Printed at the University of Chicago Press, 1908.

Guide to the study of American history; Rev. and augm. ed. Boston, Ginn & company, 1912.

The frontier in American history, by Frederick Jackson Turner. New York, H. Holt and Company, 1920.

The United States, 1830-1850; the nation and its sections, by Frederick Jackson Turner; with an introduction by Avery Craven. New York, H. Holt and company [1935]

The historical world of Frederick Jackson Turner, with selections from his correspondence. Narrative by Wilbur R. Jacobs. New Haven, Yale University Press, 1968.

History, frontier, and section: three essays, by Frederick Jackson Turner; introduction by Martin Ridge. 1st ed. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1993.

Rereading Frederick Jackson Turner: "The significance of the frontier in American history", and other essays, with commentary by John Mack Faragher. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998.