Frederick Jackson Turner

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Turner, Frederick Jackson


Born Nov. 14, 1861, in Portage, Wis.; died Mar. 14, 1932, in Pasadena, Calif. American historian.

Turner was a professor at the University of Wisconsin from 1892 to 1910 and at Harvard University from 1910 to 1924. In the early 1890’s he advanced the idea that the history of the USA is above all the history of “the Great West” and of its colonization. In Turner’s view, the country’s development owed its special character to the availability of free land and the advancing American frontier. As the leader of what came to be known as the “frontier school,” Turner had an immense influence on many historians. In the mid-1930’s, however, some historians challenged Turner’s interpretation, which was in effect an attempt to demonstrate the uniqueness of the USA’s historical development and the absence of objective conditions for the emergence of class conflicts. While Turner was one of the first to develop an economic orientation in US historiography, he ignored the crucial role played by the mode of production—a definitive influence in the colonization of the West.


The Frontier in American History. New York, 1962.
The Significance of Sections in American History. New York, 1932.
The United States, 1830–1850: The Nation and Its Sections. New York, 1958.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.