Herbert E. Bolton and the Historiography of the Americas

By Russell M. Magnaghi | Go to book overview

The Americas Concept
Emerges, 1919-1929

One of the curious aspects of the historiography of the history of the Americas is the fact that the Americas concept became more closely associated with teaching than with research. Bolton directed his efforts toward teaching the concept in his famous History 8 class. Given the fact that between 1919 and 1928 he published ten of his most important works, which focused primarily on the Spanish Borderlands, there was little time to complete a projected textbook or an interpretative work on the Americas. Much like his mentor Frederick Jackson Turner, who did not publish much more than his historic Significance speech of 1893, Bolton published little on the Americas concept. All that is left is his correspondence, a number of articles, the Epic speech, and History 8. It was Bolton's classroom teaching that actually brought the concept to thousands of students, and thus it is important to understand the History 8 course as a vehicle for expounding the history of the Americas.

April 16, 1919, proved to be a fateful day for Bolton and the history of the Americas. Phoebe Apperson Hearst, philanthropist and friend of the University of California, had died a few days before, and many of the university faculty attended her funeral. As the well-loved chairman of the History Department, Henry Morse Stephens, was returning from the funeral, he fell dead of a heart attack. The man who had brought the Bancroft Library to Berkeley, along with Native Sons' Fellowships, Herbert E. Bolton, and a Hispanic-oriented faculty, was gone. For Bolton it was "an incalculable and irreparable loss" with as yet unknown ramifications.1

Bolton's career changed quickly. First, Berkeley's president appointed Bolton acting chair and then chair of the History Department. In this position he would have to lead the department without Stephens, teach his classes for the rest of the semester, and develop new classes for the antici-

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Herbert E. Bolton and the Historiography of the Americas
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Notes xiii
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • 2- Bolton Develops The Americas Concept, 1890-1919 27
  • Notes 48
  • The Americas Concept Emerges, 1919-1929 53
  • Notes 75
  • Appendix: Chrono- Bibliography of the History Of the Americas 155
  • Bibliography 181
  • Index 205
  • About the Author *
  • Recent Titles In Studies in Historiography *
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