AHA President, 1979


Duke University

Read In Memoriam in Perspectives, April 2009 and remembrance in Perspectives, May 2009

John Hope Franklin (January 2, 1915–March 25, 2009)


From the 1979 Presidential Biography booklet

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John Hope Franklin, president of the American Historical Association, is the John Matthews Manly Distinguished Service Professor of History at the University of Chicago. He was born in .1915 in Rentiesville, Oklahoma, and attended the public schools of Tulsa. In 1935 he received the Bachelor of Arts degree in history, magna cum laude, from Fisk University. He continued his education at Harvard University, where he received the MA and PhD degrees in 1936 and 1941 respectively. While at Harvard he held the Edward Austin Fellowship from the university and a fellowship from the Julius Rosenwald Fund. He has received postdoctoral research grants from the President’s Fund of Brown University, the Social Science Research Council, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.

Mr. Franklin has taught at Fisk University, St. Augustine’s College, North Carolina College at Durham, and Howard University. In 1956 he became professor and chairman of the department of history at Brooklyn College. Since 1964 he has taught at the University of Chicago, where he served as history department chairman from 1967 to 1970. He was named John Matthews Manly Distinguished Service Professor in 1969. He has also served as visiting professor in several American universities, including Harvard University, the University of Wisconsin, Cornell University, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Hawaii.

Abroad he has served twice as professor at the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies in Austria as well as visiting lecturer at the Seminar In American Studies at Cambridge University in England where, in 1962–63, he was Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions. In 1960 he was Fulbright Professor at several Australian universities. He has lectured and participated in forums and discussion groups in many countries of Europe, Africa, and Asia. In 1957 he represented the American Council of Learned Societies at the centennial observances at the Universities of Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay. Since then he has made several trips to India under the auspices of the Department of State, and in 1975 participated in a bicentennial lecture series at several Indian universities. In 1973 he was the Lincoln Lecturer for the Board of Foreign Scholarships in South America, the South Pacific, and East Asia.

His first book, The Free Negro in North Carolina, 1790–1860, was published in 1943. In 1947 he brought out The Civil War Diary of James T Ayers and his well-known From Slavery lo Freedom: A History of Negro Americans, the fifth edition of which appeared in 1979. In 1956 the Belknap Press of Harvard University published his The Militant South, 1800–1860, which has been widely reviewed. In 1961 the Harvard University Press published his edition of Tourgee’s A Fool’s Errand in the John Harvard Library and in 1962 the Beacon Press published his edition of T W Higginson’s Army Life in a Black Regiment. His Reconstruction After the Civil War was published in 1961 as part of the University of Chicago Series in American Civilization. In 1963, Doubleday published the American edition of his Emancipation Proclamation, while the Edinburgh University Press published a British edition. Land of thee Free, which he wrote jointly with John Caughey and Ernest May, has been widely used as a text in junior high school courses in United States history. The Negro in the Twentieth Century, of which he was coeditor, was published in 1967. One of his most recent books, A Southern Odyssey; Travelers in the Antebellum North, published in 1976, won the Jules Landry Award from the Louisiana State University Press for the best manuscript submitted in 1975 in history, biography, or literature. In the same year his Jefferson Lecture was published by the University of Chicago Press under the title Racial Equality in America. Professor Franklin is general editor of the University of Chicago Press Series of Negro American Biographies and Autobiographies. He has contributed articles to leading journals in the United States and Europe and for twenty years served on the editorial board of the Journal of Negro History.

Professor Franklin has been an active member of many scholarly and professional associations. In 1967 he was president of the American Studies Association, in 1971 he was president of the Southern Historical Association, and in 1974 he was president of the Organization of American Historians He has served twice on the Council of the American Historical Association—from 1959–62, during which term he was chairman of the Executive Committee for two years, and again from 1970–73. He was a foundation member of the Fisk University Chapter of the Society of Phi Beta Kappa and was president of the United Chapters from 1973 to 1976. He is now a member of the Senate of Phi Beta Kappa. In 1973 he was elected to membership in the American Philosophical Society.

Professor Franklin’s civic and public services now and in the past are extensive. For seven years he served on the Board of Foreign Scholarships, and was chairman from 1966 to 1969. He has been a member of the boards of directors of the American Council of Learned Societies, National Education Television, the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies, and the Chicago Public Library. He currently serves on the board of trustees of Fisk University and is a member of the boards of the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago and of the Orchestral Association of Chicago.

Mr. Franklin’s accomplishments have been recognized with numerous honors and special appointments. In 1974 he was selected by the faculty of the University of Chicago to be the first Nora and Edward Ryerson Lecturer. In 1976 he was selected by the National Endowment for the Humanities as the fifth Jefferson Lecturer in the Humanities and delivered lectures in three cities. He was also appointed by President Ford in the same year to the National Council on the Humanities, from which he resigned in 1979 when President Carter appointed him to the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. He recently visited the People’s Republic of China at the invitation of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

In 1978, the year he was elected to the Oklahoma Hall of Fame, he was also one of eight Americans cited by Who’s Who in America for significant contributions to society. He has been the recipient of honorary degrees from a large number of colleges and universities. In March 1979 he was honored by the creation of the John Hope Franklin Professorship in History at Fisk University.



The free Negro in North Carolina, 1790-1860, by John Hope Franklin. Chapel Hill; The University of North Carolina Press, 1943.

The diary of James T. Ayers, Civil War recruiter; ed., with an introd., by John Franklin. Springfield; Printed by authority of the State of Illinois, 1947.

From slavery to freedom; a history of American Negroes. 1st ed. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1947; 8th ed. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2000.

The militant South, 1800-1861. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1956; 1st Illinois pbk. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2002.

Reconstruction: after the Civil War. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961.

The Emancipation proclamation. 1st ed. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1963; 2nd ed. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1993.

Land of the free; a history of the United States, by John W. Caughey, John Hope Franklin and Ernest R. May. Educational advisers: Richard M. Clowes and Alfred T. Clark, Jr. Rev. New York: Benziger Bros., 1966.

The Negro in twentieth century America; a reader on the struggle for civil rights, by John Hope Franklin & Isidore Starr. New York: Vintage Books, 1967.

Color and race. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1968.

The historian and public policy, by John Hope Franklin. Chicago: University of Chicago, Center for Policy Study, 1974

Racial equality in America, by John Hope Franklin. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976.

A southern odyssey: travelers in the antebellum North, by John Hope Franklin. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1976.

Black leaders of the twentieth century, edited by John Hope Franklin and August Meier. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982.

George Washington Williams: a biography, by John Hope Franklin. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985; Reprint, Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1998.

Race and history: selected essays 1938-1988, by John Hope Franklin. Essays Selections. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989.

The Facts of reconstruction: essays in honor of John Hope Franklin, edited by Eric Anderson & Alfred A. Moss, Jr. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1991.

The color line: legacy for the twenty-first century, John Hope Franklin. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1993.

Racial equality in America, by John Hope Franklin. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1993.

My life and an era: the autobiography of Buck Colbert Franklin, edited by John Hope Franklin and John Whittington Franklin. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1997.

Runaway slaves: rebels on the plantation, John Hope Franklin, Loren Schweninger. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.