Albert Bushnell Hart

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Albert Bushnell Hart
Albert Bushnell Hart.jpg
Born(1854-07-01)July 1, 1854
DiedJuly 16, 1943(1943-07-16) (aged 89)
Academic background
Alma materHarvard University
University of Freiburg
(PhD 1883)
ThesisThe Coercive Powers of the Government of the United States of America (1883)
Doctoral advisorHermann Eduard von Holst
Academic work
Doctoral studentsW. E. B. Du Bois
Frederic L. Paxson
Herman Vandenburg Ames

Albert Bushnell Hart (July 1, 1854 – July 16, 1943) was an American historian, writer, and editor based at Harvard University. One of the first generation of professionally trained historians in the United States, a prolific author and editor of historical works, Albert Bushnell Hart became, as Samuel Eliot Morison described him, "The Grand Old Man" of American history, looking the part with his "patriarchal full beard and flowing moustaches."[1]


Hart was born in Clarksville (now Clark), Mercer County, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Harvard University in 1880. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and a classmate and friend of future U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. He studied at Paris, Berlin and Freiburg, and received his doctorate under Hermann Eduard von Holst at Freiburg in 1883.[2] Harvard President Charles Eliot appointed Hart an instructor in 1883 to teach the only course in American history that the college offered, despite the fact that Edward Channing, already an assistant in European history, wanted to teach the course himself.[3] Hart served as instructor in history from 1883–87, assistant professor from 1887–97, and became a professor in 1897. In 1910 he was appointed Eaton Professor of the Science of Government. He was on the Harvard faculty for 43 years, retiring in 1926. In retirement he continued to write and edit from a room in Widener Library. He maintained a summer home in New Hampshire near Mount Monadnock.[4]

Hart edited, along with Edward Channing, over the period from 1892 to 1895 a series of extracts from primary documents called the "American history leaflets; colonial and constitutional", which included titles such as "Extracts from the Sagas describing the voyages to Vinland", and "Documents illustrating the territorial development of the United States, 1584-1774". Hart was an editor of the Harvard Graduates' Magazine from 1894 to 1902. He served as president of the American Historical Association in 1909 and of the American Political Science Association in 1912. In 1914, he was appointed exchange professor at the University of Berlin.

Hart authored Formation of the Union (1892), Salmon Portland Chase (1899), Essentials of American History (1905), Slavery and Abolition (1906), and many other books. He was editor of the "American Nation" series (28 volumes, 1903–18) and other series on American history, of many source books and guides for the study of American history, and, with Andrew C. McLaughlin, of the Cyclopedia of American Government (3 volumes, 1914). He was an editor of the American Historical Review for 14 years, and president of both the American Historical Association (AHA) and the American Political Science Association. Hart edited the American Year Book from 1911 to 1920 and from 1926 to 1932. He edited a five-volume history of Massachusetts in 1927-30 and worked as the official historian of the George Washington bicentennial commission from 1926 to 1932.

In 1909, he played an important role in enabling his former student, W. E. B. Du Bois, to deliver his paper "Reconstruction and Its Benefits" to the AHA in New York. This essay was elaborated as the book Black Reconstruction in America in 1935 and proved to be a seminal work in moving historical discussion of the Reconstruction period away from the views of the Dunning School. He served as a trustee of Howard University. Though a believer in the racial inferiority of African Americans, he nevertheless opposed plans to deny black students places in the Freshman Halls at Harvard in the years following World War I.[5] Aside from being the advisor for Du Bois' doctoral dissertation, Hart was also the advisor (along with Edward Channing) for Carter G. Woodson's dissertation.[6] Hart was also the initial doctoral advisor for another African-American historian, Charles H. Wesley, and arranged for Wesley to receive the same Austin Scholar Graduate Fellowship that Du Bois had received thirty years earlier; and as a Howard University trustee, Hart used his influence to secure Wesley a leave of absence so he could complete his doctorate. However, since Hart was on academic leave that semester, Channing served as Wesley's dissertation advisor.[7]

A proponent of U.S. participation in World War I, he was accused of espionage in December 1918, but the charges were determined to be the work of German propagandists trying to undermine his pro-British stance.[8] In 1922, The Progressive Magazine referred to Hart as an Anglomaniac.[9]

In the fall of 1915, he served on the Mooseheart Governing Board, and remained in that role through 1928. The 1928 edition of Seniors' Book is dedicated in his honor.

A discussion arose in 1923 as to the "Americanism" of his history textbooks Epochs of American History and National Ideals Historically Traced. An investigating committee suggested the removal of his School History of the United States from New York City schools.[10]

Hart married Mary Putnam in 1889, and they adopted twin boys in 1897.[11] He died on July 16, 1943.[12] Although Hart had agreed that all of his papers would go to Harvard after his death, his papers were sold by his sons through book dealers in Newburyport, and the college attempted to recover as many as possible.[13]

Hart's efforts to collect the writings of Theodore Roosevelt[edit]

Hart was a devoted friend and follower of Theodore Roosevelt and was elected as a Roosevelt delegate to the Republican convention of 1912. He became an enthusiastic trustee and supporter of the Roosevelt Memorial Association, now called the Theodore Roosevelt Association and said that from the time of TR's death he had the idea to "present in alphabetical arrangement extracts sufficiently numerous and comprehensive to display all the phases of Roosevelt's activities and opinions as expressed by him." This work would eventually be called the Theodore Roosevelt Cyclopedia.

Professor Hart wrote Herman Hagedorn of the Association: "What we are after is the crisp, sharp, biting sparks that flew from the Roosevelt brain." Hart told the survivors of the Harvard Class of 1880 that editing the cyclopedia "will be a very interesting and agreeable service to the memory of our great classmate." From the beginning, however, the project was plagued with problems simply because Hart was very busy with many other commitments. Hart had to postpone the cyclopedia, and he asked the Association for research and clerical staff, but the Executive Committee of the Roosevelt Memorial Association delayed appropriations for the cyclopedia, because the expense was "so great," and it was not until May 1928 that a budget was approved for the cyclopedia, although the project had been publicly announced years before. Finally in 1931, Hart presented a rough draft of the cyclopedia to Hagedorn. But the book needed much more work and the elderly Hart "began to decline" and Hagedorn reported to the RMA Executive Committee that Hart could not finish the project "because of his advanced years."

It appeared in 1941 as The Theodore Roosevelt Cyclopedia edited by Albert Bushnell Hart and Herbert Ronald Ferleger.[14]

Notable Quotations[edit]

"'Good wine needs no bush', and if there were need to urge the reading of history it would be proof that history is too dull and unattractive to be read." ("How to Study History", in Studies in American Education, 1895)

"For all the weary hours spent over bibliographies and source books and textbooks, at the end of fifty years I have the satisfaction of believing that I was one of a group of young men who made history and government vital subjects for college and graduate school." (Harvard College Class of 1880, Fiftieth Anniversary Report, 1930)

On his opposition to imperialism: "I believe that the best thing for the happiness of American and of other people is for us to remain within our present boundaries, and give our strength to governing ourselves well. I don't want Hawaii nor Cuba nor Mexico nor Canada as a free and peaceable gift." (Albert Bushnell Hart to Theodore Roosevelt, January 11, 1896, quoted in Baird, 143)


  • Author
    • Introduction to the Study of Federal Government (1890) (2nd ed. 1891)[15]
    • Why the South Was Defeated in the Civil War (1891)[16]
    • Epochs of American History (3 vols.) (1891-3) (with Reuben Gold Thwaites and Woodrow Wilson). "The Colonies, 1492-1750" (1891), "Formation of the Union, 1750-1829" (1892), "Division and Reunion, 1829-1889" (1893).[17]
    • Epoch Maps, Illustrating American History (1891)[18]
    • Practical Essays on American Government (1893)[19]
    • Studies in American Education (1895)[20]
    • Guide to the Study of American History, with Edward Channing (1897);[21] 2nd ed. with Edward Channing and Frederick Jackson Turner (1912)
    • Salmon Portland Chase (1899, in the American Statesman series)
    • Foundations of American Foreign Policy (1901)[22]
    • Actual Government (1903)
    • Slavery and Abolition (1906, in the American Nation series, covering 1831-1842)
    • National Ideals Historically Traced (1907)
    • Manual of American History, Diplomacy, and Government (1908)
    • Imagination in History (1909)[23]
    • The Southern South (1910); focus on race relations; influential survey
    • Formation of the Union (1910)
    • The Obvious Orient (1911)
    • The War in Europe (1914); vol. 26 of the American Nation series
    • The Monroe Doctrine: An Interpretation (1916)[24]
    • New American History (1917)
    • School History of the United States (1917)
    • America at War (1917)
    • Causes of the War (1920)
    • We and Our History (1923)
  • Editor
    • American history leaflets; colonial and constitutional."[25]
    • The Romance of the Civil War (1896)
    • American History told by Contemporaries (4 vols, 1898–1901)
    • Source Readers in American History (4 vols, 1901–03)
    • Epochs of American History series (3 small text-books)
    • American Nation series (27 vols, 1903–07)
    • American Citizen series
    • Cyclopedia of American Government (3 vols.) (1914) (co-edited by Andrew C. McLaughlin)[26][27][28][29][30]
    • Colonial Children, edited with Blanche E. Hazard (1914)
    • Harper's Pictorial Library of the World War, Volume 1 (1920)
    • Commonwealth History of Massachusetts (five volumes, 1927–30; Hart also contributed essays to the collection)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Samuel Eliot Morison (1973). "Hart, Albert Bushnell". Dictionary of American Biography. Supplement Three 1941-1945. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.
  2. ^ Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Hart, Albert Bushnell" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 13 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 30.
  3. ^ Carol F. Baird, "Albert Bushnell Hart: The Rise of the Professional Historian," in Paul Buck (ed.), Social Sciences at Harvard 1860-1920: From Inculcation to the Open Mind (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1965), 132.
  4. ^ "Albert Bushnell Hart", New York Times, June 18, 1943; accessed January 12, 2010.
  5. ^ Marsha Graham Synnott, The Half-Opened Door: Discrimination and Admissions at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, 1900-1970 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1979), 51.
  6. ^ Pero Gaglo Dagbovie, Carter G. Woodson in Washington, D.C.: The Father of Black History (Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2014), 39, accessed 17 Aug. 2015.
  7. ^ Francille Rusan Wilson, The Segregated Scholars: Black Social Scientists and the Creation of Black Labor Studies, 1890-1950 (Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 2006), 166, accessed 17 Aug. 2015.
  8. ^ New York Times: "Albert B. Hart of Harvard Dies", July 17, 1943; accessed January 12, 2010.
  9. ^ "A. v. C. P. Huizinga, "That Pogrom Naturalization Bill," The Progressive Magazine (13 May 1922), 81, accessed 19 August 2015.
  10. ^ "What About Our History Textbooks? Pro-British Accusation Leads to Discussion and Investigation," Publisher's Weekly (1 July 1922), 16-17.
  11. ^ Carol F. Baird, "Albert Bushnell Hart: The Rise of the Professional Historian," in Paul Buck (ed.), Social Sciences at Harvard 1860-1920: From Inculcation to the Open Mind (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1965), 133.
  12. ^ "Albert B. Hart of Harvard Dies", New York Times, July 17, 1943; accessed January 12, 2010; "Albert Bushnell Hart", New York Times, June 18, 1943; accessed January 12, 2010
  13. ^ Carol F. Baird, "Albert Bushnell Hart: The Rise of the Professional Historian," in Paul Buck (ed.), Social Sciences at Harvard 1860-1920: From Inculcation to the Open Mind (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1965), 293.
  14. ^ "Theodore Roosevelt Cyclopedia", New York Times, July 20, 1941; accessed January 12, 2010.
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
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  24. ^
  25. ^ bibliographic record for "American history leaflets; colonial and constitutional"
  26. ^ "Classifying government". The Independent. Jul 6, 1914. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
  27. ^
  28. ^ vol. 1
  29. ^ vol. 2
  30. ^ vol. 3

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