Franklin, John Hope

Franklin, John Hope

Franklin, John Hope, 1915–2009, the dean of 20th-century African-American historians, b. Rentiesville, Okla., grad. Fisk Univ. (A.B., 1935), Harvard (M.A., 1936; Ph.D., 1941). Franklin served on the faculties of his alma mater (1936–37), St. Augustine's College (1939–43), North Carolina College (1943–47), Howard Univ. (1947–56), Brooklyn College (1956–64), and the Univ. of Chicago (1964–82) before assuming (1982) the James B. Duke Professorship of History at Duke. He became professor emeritus in 1985, but taught at Duke's law school from 1985 to 1992. Franklin was also president of Phi Beta Kappa (1973–76), the American Historical Association (1978–79), and several other scholarly organizations.

Franklin's many publications focused on the history of the American South, on slavery and Reconstruction, and on the African-American contribution to the development of the United States. His best-known book, the pioneering From Slavery to Freedom (1947; 8th ed. 2000), revolutionized the understanding of African-American history and changed the way the subject is taught. Among Franklin's other works are The Militant South: 1800–1860 (1956), Reconstruction after the Civil War (1961), The Emancipation Proclamation (1963), Color and Race (1968), Racial Equality in America (1976), Race and History (1989), The Color Line (1993), and In Search of the Promised Land (with L. Schweninger, 2005). He also edited a number of books, including the autobiography (1997) of his father, an Oklahoma lawyer.

Active in the civil-rights movement, Franklin provided historical information vital to the brief for the landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kans. case, marched with Martin Luther King, and testified repeatedly at congressional hearings regarding racial issues. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995 and was appointed President Clinton's adviser on race two years later. His papers form the nucleus of Duke's John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African-American Documentation.


See his autobiography, Mirror to America (2005).

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Franklin, John Hope

(1915–  ) historian; born in Rentiesville, Okla. He took his B.A. from Fisk University and did his graduate work at Harvard, taught at colleges in North Carolina, and then in 1947—the same year he published his pathbreaking study, From Slavery to Freedom: A History of American Negroes —he joined the faculty of Howard University. He then became chairman of the history department of Brooklyn College (1956–64), professor at the University of Chicago (1964–82), and professor at Duke University (1982–85). He was the first African-American to become president of the American Historical Association, and as the history of African-Americans finally gained its place among the serious fields of inquiry, he became recognized both as the nestor of the discipline and as a valued voice in the chorus of all American historians. Among his other publications are Reconstruction after the Civil War (1961), The Emancipation Proclamation (1963), and Racial Equality in America (1976).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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* Franklin, John Hope, From Slavery to Freedom (Young Oxford History of African Americans, 1997) Grades 6-10.