Steffens, Lincoln

Steffens, Lincoln

(Joseph Lincoln Steffens), 1866–1936, American editor and author, b. San Francisco, grad. Univ. of California, Berkeley, 1889, and studied three years in Europe. Returning to the United States, he took successive reporting jobs on various New York City newspapers. Soon Steffens became one of America's leading muckrakersmuckrakers,
name applied to American journalists, novelists, and critics who in the first decade of the 20th cent. attempted to expose the abuses of business and the corruption in politics.
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, and while he held (1902–11) successive editorial positions on McClure's, the American, and Everybody's magazines he wrote sensational articles exposing municipal corruption, corporate monopolies, and political machines, areas that had never been covered in this way by journalists. His pieces were later collected in The Shame of the Cities (1904), The Struggle for Self-Government (1906), Upbuilders (1909), and other volumes. His autobiography (1931) contains not only personal reminiscences but also valuable information on the leftist movements of his era.

Bibliography

See his Lincoln Steffens Speaking (1936) and his letters (ed. by E. Winters and G. Hicks, 2 vol., 1938); biographies by J. Kaplan (1974) and P. Hartshorn (2011).

Steffens, Lincoln

(1866–1936) journalist, social reformer; born in San Francisco. After graduating from the University of California and studying in Europe, he became a reporter and, ultimately, city editor for the New York Post (1892–98), then city editor on the New York Commercial Advertiser (1898–1902). As managing editor of the muckraking McClure's magazine (1902–06), he wrote carefully researched articles documenting city government corruption that flourished in the face of public apathy; the articles, which created a sensation, were republished in The Shame of the Cities (1904), an epoch-making work in urban reform. Steffens also analyzed corruption and reform on the state level in The Struggle for Self-Government (1906). He was associate editor of the American (1906–07) and then Everybody's magazine (1906–11). Visiting postrevolutionary Communist Russia in 1919, he made the famous comment, "I have seen the future and it works." His classic Autobiography (1931) was a pungent, often skeptical commentary on the reform movement of the time.
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