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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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.
References in periodicals archive ?
(2) Frederick Jackson Turner, The Frontier in American History, http://xroads.virginia.
The Significance of the Frontier in American History," in Rereading Frederick Jackson Turner: "The Significance of the Frontier in American History" and Other Essays, by Frederick Jackson Turner, with commentary by John Mack Faragher.
William Cronon, Professor of History with a specialization in History of the American West at University of Wisconsin-Madison, also discusses Turner's thesis in his "Revisiting the Vanishing Frontier: The Legacy of Frederick Jackson Turner".
At the end of the day Mackin believes, much in the spirit of Frederick Jackson Turner, over a hundred years ago, that shortages must engender a new approach to property and land if we are to steward our resources for ourselves and future generations.
This unsettling revelation about the size and span of the tradition leads to a second conclusion: Contrary to the frontier thesis of Frederick Jackson Turner, American history, in this respect at least, is not exceptional.
As Franklin himself wrote, "I would rather have it said, 'He lived usefully' than 'He died rich.'" On his 300th birthday, JS salutes the man whom historian Frederick Jackson Turner called "the first great American"--Benjamin Franklin.
So among these pieces some old acquaintances returned to my consideration, and not just such as Theodore Roosevelt, Frederick Jackson Turner, Thorstein Veblen, and Edith Wharton.
One was Harvard historian Frederick Jackson Turner's remarkably influential lecture and article, 'The Significance of the Frontier in American History', which has been called 'the single most influential piece of writing in the history of American history'.
It explores his representation of the American West within a context established by historical and literary figures, including Andrew Jackson and Frederick Jackson Turner. Key topics are the Frontier, the representation of the Native American, writing and the environment.
It may also be instructive to draw from the work of nineteenth century American historians, such as Frederick Jackson Turner and William Gilpin.