Nevins, Allan

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Nevins, Allan

Allan Nevins, 1890–1971, American historian, b. Camp Point, Ill. After studying at the Univ. of Illinois, he followed a career in journalism until 1927. Teaching at Columbia from 1928, he became a full professor in 1931 and was made De Witt Clinton professor of American history in 1942. He retired in 1958, becoming a senior research associate of the Huntington Library. Nevins, one of the most prolific U.S. historians of the 20th cent., is noted for the exhaustive research and comprehensive treatment that characterize his wide range of historical writings. His masterful political biographies include Grover Cleveland (1932) and Hamilton Fish (1936), both of which won Pulitzer Prizes; Frémont: Pathmarker of the West (1939); and Herbert H. Lehman and His Era (1963). In works on the economic giants of America, among them Abram S. Hewitt (1935) and Study in Power: John D. Rockefeller (rev. ed. 1953), Nevins pointed out the role of the captains of industry in making America a world power. The Ordeal of the Union (1947–60), Nevins's six-volume history of the Civil War era from 1847 through 1863, is a comprehensive narrative of the age, covering social, economic, and political aspects. Among many other notable works are Illinois (1917), a history of the state university; The Evening Post (1922), an early work in the history of journalism; The American States during and after the Revolution, 1775–1789 (1924), a valuable study of change in this period; The Emergence of Modern America, 1865–1878 (1927), a social history; and The Gateway to History (1938, rev. ed. 1962), an introduction to historiography. The many papers edited by Nevins include the diaries of Philip Hone (1927), John Quincy Adams (1928), James K. Polk (1929), and George Templeton Strong (1952), as well as the letters of Grover Cleveland (1933). Nevins also established the Columbia oral history program, the first of its kind in the nation.

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