Rare Book & Manuscript Library
 

Society of American Historians records, 1879-1976, bulk 1939-1976

Summary Information

Abstract

This collection contains the early records of the Society of American Historians (SAH). The bulk of the material relates to the founding of the magazine American Heritage in 1954, and the establishment of the Francis Parkman and the Allan Nevins Prizes, awarded by the SAH since 1957 and 1961, respectively. Also present is a small amount of research material collected by Allan Nevins, Columbia University history professor and one of the founders of the SAH.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#1420
Bib ID 6915231 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Society of American Historians
Title Society of American Historians records, 1879-1976, bulk 1939-1976
Physical Description 10 linear feet (24 document boxes)
Language(s) English .
Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Arrangement

Arrangement

This collection is arranged in seven series.

Description

Summary

The Society of American Historians Records include material from the first four decades of the SAH. Available in this collection are administrative records such as minutes and membership lists, financial records, correspondence, printed materials, and photographs. The bulk of the collection concerns the founding of the magazine American Heritage in 1954. Included are minutes, correspondence, fundraising letters, and promotional materials. Aside from the letters among SAH members that discuss the scope of the magazine, fundraising letters comprise the bulk of the correspondence. Material related to the annual Francis Parkman and the Allan Nevins Prizes also comprises a large part of the collection. Correspondence with history departments regarding submissions for the awards, and with publishers makes up the bulk of the prize material, but guest lists, photos and documents relating to the annual awards dinner are also present. The collection includes a small amount of Allan Nevins' research material. The research notes and documents concern Nevins' books about the John D. Rockefeller and the Rockefeller family.

  • Series I: Administrative Records, 1939-1975

    This series includes charters of the SAH, and minutes from annual meetings and council meetings. The minutes are arranged chronologically. Also included are membership lists, correspondence and inquiries regarding membership.

  • Series II: Correspondence, 1939-1975

    Correspondence among SAH members regarding the general business of the SAH can be found here. The series also includes inquiries from the public regarding the activities of the SAH. Correspondence related to the magazine project was filed separately by the SAH and can be found in Series III: Magazine Project.

  • Series III: Magazine Project, 1941-1959

    This series consists of materials related to the founding of the American Heritage magazine. The bulk of the material dates from the late 1940s to the mid-1950s. Included are minutes from magazine committees, correspondence and memorandum among the SAH members. This series also contains numerous fundraising letters sent to various individuals and organizations. Lists and clippings regarding prospective donors, and progress reports sent to the contributors can also be found here. Letters to and from Courtland Canby, who was in charge of the financial campaign, comprise the bulk of the correspondence, which is arranged alphabetically.

    This series also contains materials relating to a 1951-1952 survey on the use of history in the mass media. The SAH presented its findings at a conference in 1952, and along with papers and speeches, research materials such as clippings, articles, and questionnaires are available. Correspondence with the Rockefeller Foundation, which funded the survey, is here as well.

    Advertisements, pamphlets, prospectuses and other promotional material are included in this series.

  • Series IV: History Agency, 1952-1953

    This series contains materials related to the History Agency, an organization that from 1952-1953 attempted to connect professional historians with members of the media in need of history services. In addition to correspondence and prospectuses, the series contains radio scripts that the agency prepared for the National Broadcasting Company's series, Omnibus, in 1953.

  • Series V: Awards and Special Occasions, 1944-1976

    Correspondence, printed material and photographs related to awards and ceremonies constitute this series. The bulk of the material relates to the annual Allan Nevins Prize and the Francis Parkman Prize, and includes, primarily, submission letters from history departments and from publishers. Correspondence regarding the founding of the prizes, guest lists, photos, and reprints of speeches can also be found here.

  • Series VI: Financial Records, 1941-1974

    This series contains annual financial statements and tax records. Financial records relating to the magazine project can be found both in this series and in Series III: Magazine Project.

  • Series VII: Allan Nevins--Personal Research Files, 1879-1886, undated

    A small collection of Allen Nevins' research files, which include original documents, a box of index cards and handwritten research notes on the Rockefellers, make up this series.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Society of American Historians records; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Accrual

No additional material is expected

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Papers processed Yuki Oda (GSAS 2013) 2010.

Finding Aid written Yuki Oda (GSAS 2013) 08/--/2010.

Revision Description

2010-09-16 xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Subject

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
American Heritage Publishing Company Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Baxter, James Phinney, 1893-1975 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Canby, Courtlandt Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University -- Faculty Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Freeman, Douglas Southall, 1886-1953 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Garraty, John A (John Arthur), 1920-2007 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Goldman, Eric Frederick, 1915-1989 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Historians -- United States Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Historians -- United States -- Correspondence Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
National Broadcasting Company Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Nevins, Allan, 1890-1971 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Parkman, Francis, 1823-1893 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Rockefeller Foundation Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Tuchman, Barbara W (Barbara Wertheim), 1912-1989 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

The Society of American Historians (SAH) was founded in 1939 by Allan Nevins (1890-1971) and several other historians for the purpose of promoting literary distinction in the writing of history and biography.

Until the mid-1950s, the principal aim of the SAH was in launching a history magazine that could appeal to a wide audience beyond the academic community. Nevins, a history professor at Columbia University and a two-time Pulitzer winner, initially proposed the idea of publishing a popular magazine of history to the American Historial Association (AHA). The AHA declined this proposal, however, which induced Nevins to establish the SAH in 1939 to undertake the publishing project. It took the SAH fifteen years to realize the idea, and over the years tentative titles for the publication included History, Horizons, Living History, and Milestones. In 1954, in cooperation with the American Association for State and Local History, the magazine finally came into being as the American Heritage.

For a brief period from 1952 to 1953, the SAH also ran the History Agency, an organization with the goal of providing the media with the services of professional historians. Although the History Agency was short-lived, one of its products was a collection of scripts for the 1953 radio series Omnibus, which was aired by the National Broadcasting Company.

Since the mid-1950s, the SAH's main focus has been in awarding prizes to promote historical writing with an American theme. In 1957, in order to stimulate the writing of history as literature, the SAH established the annual Francis Parkman Prize to honor the best nonfiction book of the year. The first Parkman Prize was awarded to George F. Kennan, Russia Leaves the War (Princeton University Press). Since 1960, the SAH has also awarded the Allan Nevins Prize, annually, for the best-written doctoral dissertation in history. Most of the winning dissertations have subsequently been published.

Presidents of the SAH have included Douglas Southall Freeman (1939-1944), James P. Baxter III (1944-1946), Allan Nevins (1946-1961), Eric F. Goldman (1961-1969), John A. Garraty (1969-1971) and Barbara Tuchman (1971-1975). After several revisions to its policy, the SAH limited its membership, in the the late 1960s, to invitation only.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only CU affiliates may view materials on-site. YOU MUST REQUEST AN APPOINTMENT BEFORE PLACING REQUESTS. Email rbml@library.columbia.edu to request an appointment. You may submit a request for materials once your appointment is confirmed. Affiliates will login with their uni and password, and need to register the first time they make a request.


Series I: Administrative Records, 1939-1975

This series includes charters of the SAH, and minutes from annual meetings and council meetings. The minutes are arranged chronologically. Also included are membership lists, correspondence and inquiries regarding membership.


Annual Meetings, 1944-1968

(Missing 1949 and 1959)



Box 1 Folder 1-7 1944-1951, (7 Folders)


Box 1 Folder 8-13 1955-1961, (6 Folders)


Box 1 Folder 14-16 1966-1968, (3 Folders)


Box 1 Folder 17 Board--Executive, 1968


Council Meetings, 1941-1966

(Missing 1942,1949,1952, 1962-1963)


Box 1 Folder 18-27 1941-1953, (10 Folders)


Box 1 Folder 28-35 1957-1966, (8 Folders)


Charters, 1939-1960


Box 1 Folder 36-37 Certificate of Incorporation, 1939, 1960, 1939, 1960, (2 Folders)



Box 2 Folder 1 Certificate of Resolution, 1951


Box 2 Folder 2 Constitution--Draft, 1939


Box 2 Folder 3-6 Constitution and By-Laws, 1944, 1960, Undated, 1944, 1960, Undated, (4 Folders)


Membership, 1939-1975


Correspondence


Box 2 Folder 7-8 Inquiries, 1953-1975, (2 Folders)


Box 2 Folder 9 Invitation, 1939-1964


Box 2 Folder 10-11 Invitation, 1970-1975, (2 Folders)



Box 3 Folder 1 Reorganization, 1958-1960


Box 3 Folder 2-8 List, 1939, 1943-1954, 1939, 1943-1954, (7 Folders)



Box 4 Folder 1-9 List, 1956-1974, Undated, 1956-1974, Undated, (9 Folders)

Series II: Correspondence, 1939-1975

Correspondence among SAH members regarding the general business of the SAH can be found here. The series also includes inquiries from the public regarding the activities of the SAH. Correspondence related to the magazine project was filed separately by the SAH and can be found in Series III: Magazine Project.


Box 4 Folder 10 Boyd, Julian P, 1941-1950


Clemen, Rogers


Box 4 Folder 11 Garraty, John A., 1959-1961


Box 4 Folder 12 Krout, John A., 1943-1947


Box 4 Folder 13 Nevins, Allan, 1943-1960



Box 5 Folder 1-2 Counsellors at Law, 1944-1962, (2 Folders)


Krout, John A.


Box 5 Folder 3 Freeman, Douglas, 1941-1944


Box 5 Folder 4 Nevins, Allan, 1941-1947


Box 5 Folder 5 Nevins, Allan, 1953-1959


Council and Directors, 1939-1974


Box 5 Folder 6 Appointment of Officers, 1939-1959


Box 5 Folder 7-13 Council, 1961-1967, (7 Folders)


Box 5 Folder 14-17 Directors, 1968-1974, (4 Folders)


Box 5 Folder 18-26 General, 1943-1959, (9 Folders)



Box 6 Folder 1-11 General, 1960-1975, (11 Folders)


Box 6 Folder 12-13 Inquiries, 1952-1975, (2 Folders)


Box 6 Folder 14 Inquiries--regarding Society of American Historians, 1956-1974


Projects



Box 7 Folder 1 American Heritage , 1971-1972


Box 7 Folder 2 American Presidents Project--Reader's Digest,, 1955


Box 7 Folder 3 Book Plan, 1951


Box 7 Folder 4 Fellowship, 1958


Box 7 Folder 5 Newcomen Society, 1944-1957


Box 7 Folder 6 World of History and the American Story, 1953-1957

Series III: Magazine Project, 1941-1959

This series consists of materials related to the founding of the American Heritage magazine. The bulk of the material dates from the late 1940s to the mid-1950s. Included are minutes from magazine committees, correspondence and memorandum among the SAH members. This series also contains numerous fundraising letters sent to various individuals and organizations. Lists and clippings regarding prospective donors, and progress reports sent to the contributors can also be found here. Letters to and from Courtland Canby, who was in charge of the financial campaign, comprise the bulk of the correspondence, which is arranged alphabetically.

This series also contains materials relating to a 1951-1952 survey on the use of history in the mass media. The SAH presented its findings at a conference in 1952, and along with papers and speeches, research materials such as clippings, articles, and questionnaires are available. Correspondence with the Rockefeller Foundation, which funded the survey, is here as well.

Advertisements, pamphlets, prospectuses and other promotional material are included in this series.


Committee Minutes


Box 7 Folder 7 Continuing and Advisory, 1944-1953


Box 7 Folder 8 Finance, 1951


Box 7 Folder 9 Joint, 1949


Box 7 Folder 10 Liaison, 1953


Box 7 Folder 11 Magazine, 1949-1951


Box 7 Folder 12 Steering, 1949


Correspondence and Memorandum, 1941-1959


Box 7 Folder 13-18 General, 1948-1954, (6 Folders)


Box 7 Folder 19 American Heritage--Joint Sponsorship, 1954-1959


Burlingame, Roger


Box 7 Folder 20 General, 1949



Box 8 Folder 1 Canby, Henry, 1949-1950


Box 8 Folder 2 Clemen, Rudolf, 1949


Box 8 Folder 3 Pringle, Henry, 1949


Canby, Courtland


Box 8 Folder 4-11 General, 1949-1951, (8 Folders)



Box 9 Folder 1-4 General, 1950-1953, Undated, 1950-1953, Undated, (4 Folders)


Box 9 Folder 5 Applicants, 1948-1952


Box 9 Folder 6 Authors--Potential, 1949-1951


Box 9 Folder 7 Burlingame, Roger, 1949-1951


Box 9 Folder 8 Canby, Henry, 1949-1952


Box 9 Folder 9-10 Clemen, Rudolf, 1948-1953, (2 Folders)


Box 9 Folder 11-14 D-F, 1949-1950, (4 Folders)



Box 10 Folder 1-2 K, 1949-1951, (2 Folders)


Box 10 Folder 3 Keener, Ruth, 1948-1949


Box 10 Folder 4 L, 1949-1951


Box 10 Folder 5 Library of Congress--Copyright, 1949


Box 10 Folder 6-7 M, 1949-1951, (2 Folders)


Box 10 Folder 8 Nevins, Allan, 1950-1954


Box 10 Folder 9 Pringle, Henry, 1949-1951


Box 10 Folder 10-16 R-W, 1950-1951, (7 Folders)


Box 10 Folder 17 Wecter, Dixon, 1949-1950


Box 10 Folder 18 Y-Z, 1949-1951


Canby, Henry


Box 10 Folder 19 General, 1949-1954



Box 11 Folder 1 Clemen, Rudolf, 1950-1952


Box 11 Folder 2 Pringle, Henry, 1949


Box 11 Folder 3 Nevins, Allan, 1949


Clemen, Rudolf


Box 11 Folder 4 General, 1947-1952


Box 11 Folder 5 Gross, Nancy, 1950-1954


Box 11 Folder 6-7 Nevins, Allan, 1943-1955, (2 Folders)


Box 11 Folder 8 Gross, Nancy, 1950-1953


Box 11 Folder 9 History Publisher's Foundation, 1943-1953


Box 11 Folder 10 Krout, John A., 1941-1943


Box 11 Folder 11 Nevins, Allan, 1944-1952


Box 11 Folder 12 Pringle, Henry, 1948-1949


Box 11 Folder 13 Richardson Wood and Co., 1950-1951


Box 11 Folder 14 Subscription Queries, 1942-1951


Fundraising, 1944-1953


Donors--Prospective



Box 24 Folder 1 General--List--Index Cards, 1950



Box 11 Folder 15-17 General--List, 1949-1952, (3 Folders)


Foundations


Box 11 Folder 18 General, 1944-1950



Box 12 Folder 1 Ford Foundation, 1948-1953


Box 12 Folder 2 Labor Union, 1948-1950


Founders


Box 12 Folder 3 Budget Proposal, 1950


Box 12 Folder 4 List, 1948-1950


Pledges


Box 12 Folder 5-6 Original and Extension, 1950-1951, (2 Folders)


Box 12 Folder 7 Release of, 1952


Box 12 Folder 8 Stock Proposal, 1952


Dinners and Luncheons


Box 12 Folder 9 Boston, 1950


Box 12 Folder 10 California, 1950


Box 12 Folder 11 Chicago, 1950 and 1952, 1950, 1952


Box 12 Folder 12 Denver, 1950


Box 12 Folder 13-15 New York, 1949-1950, (3 Folders)


Box 12 Folder 16 Philadelphia, 1950


Box 12 Folder 17 St. Louis, 1950


Box 12 Folder 18 Texas, 1950


Box 12 Folder 19 Union League, 1950


Box 12 Folder 20 Washington, 1950



Box 24 Folder 2 Subscribers--Index Cards, 1951


History in the Mass Media, 1941-1953



Box 13 Folder 1-2 Correspondence--Rockefeller Foundation, 1941-1953, (2 Folders)


Box 13 Folder 3-6 Conference, 1952, (4 Folders)


Survey


Box 13 Folder 7 General, 1951-1952


Box 13 Folder 8-9 Periodicals, Radio, and Televisions, 1951-1952, (2 Folders)



Box 14 Folder 1 Periodicals, Radio, and Television, 1951-1952


Box 14 Folder 2-3 Television and Film, 1951-1952, (2 Folders)


Promotional, 1941-1952


History


Box 14 Folder 4 Advertisement-- New York Times Book Review,, 1951


Box 14 Folder 5 Direct Mail, 1951


Box 14 Folder 7 Dummy Copy, 1951


Box 14 Folder 8 Letters from Readers, 1952



Box 15 Folder 1 Prospectus, 1950


Horizons


Box 15 Folder 2 Prospectus, 1944


Box 15 Folder 3 "Widening Our Horizons in Time and Space,", 1944


Box 15 Folder 4 "What Makes History Readable,", 1944


Living History


Box 15 Folder 5 "A Monthly Magazine"--Henry Seidel Canby, 1948


Box 15 Folder 6 Comments--From Members, 1948


Box 15 Folder 7 "Plan for Experimental Production"--For Henry Luce, 1948


Milestones


Box 15 Folder 8 Comments, undated


Box 15 Folder 9 Prospectus, 1949


Box 15 Folder 10 Table of Contents, circa, 1949


Nevins, Allen


Box 15 Folder 11 Folkways, Undated


Box 15 Folder 12 Historical Quiz, Undated


Box 15 Folder 13 Letters to Editors, Undated


Box 15 Folder 14 News and Backgrounds, 1949


Box 15 Folder 15 Popular Misconceptions, Undated


Box 15 Folder 16 Reprints, Undated


Box 15 Folder 17 Words, 1951


Box 15 Folder 18 Projected Articles, late 1940s-early, 1950s



Box 16 Folder 1-4 Projected Articles, late 1940s-early, 1950s, (4 Folders)


Box 16 Folder 5 Report and News Release, 1941-1952


Box 16 Folder 6 Sample of Direct Mails--Other Magazines, 1950s

Series IV: History Agency, 1952-1953

This series contains materials related to the History Agency, an organization that from 1952-1953 attempted to connect professional historians with members of the media in need of history services. In addition to correspondence and prospectuses, the series contains radio scripts that the agency prepared for the National Broadcasting Company's series, Omnibus, in 1953.


Box 16 Folder 7-8 Correspondence--Fundraising, 1952-1953, (2 Folders)


Omnibus, NBC Radio Scripts



Box 17 Folder 1 "Letters of Mozart,", 1953


Box 17 Folder 2 "Napoleon,", 1953


Box 17 Folder 3 "Roger Williams and the Tradition of Civil Liberties,", 1953


Box 17 Folder 4 "Stroke of Fate,", 1953


Box 17 Folder 5 Prospectus, 1952-1953


Box 17 Folder 6 "World of History and the American Story,", 1953-1957

Series V: Awards and Special Occasions, 1944-1976

Correspondence, printed material and photographs related to awards and ceremonies constitute this series. The bulk of the material relates to the annual Allan Nevins Prize and the Francis Parkman Prize, and includes, primarily, submission letters from history departments and from publishers. Correspondence regarding the founding of the prizes, guest lists, photos, and reprints of speeches can also be found here.


Allan Nevins Prize


Box 17 Folder 16 List of Winners, 1960-1973


Box 17 Folder 17-20 1960 Prize-1964 Prize, 1957-1965, 1960, 1957-1965, (4 Folders)



Box 18 Folder 1-10 1965 Prize-1974 Prize, 1965-1975, 1965, 1965-1975, (10 Folders)


Francis Parkman Prize



Box 19 Folder 1 List of Winners, 1956-1973


Box 19 Folder 2-6 1955-1959, (5 Folders)



Box 20 Folder 1-9 1959-1967, (9 Folders)



Box 21 Folder 1-8 1967-1975, (8 Folders)



Box 22 Folder 10 Mock Certificate, Undated



Box 21 Folder 9 Scribner Prize, 1944-1945


Special Occasions, 1957-1976


Box 21 Folder 10 Allan Nevins Testimonial Dinner, 1957-1958


Box 21 Folder 11-13 Annual Awards Dinner, 1966-1968, (3 Folders)



Box 22 Folder 1-8 Annual Awards Dinner, 1969-1976, (8 Folders)


Box 22 Folder 9 St. Louis Breakfast, 1976

Series VI: Financial Records, 1941-1974

This series contains annual financial statements and tax records. Financial records relating to the magazine project can be found both in this series and in Series III: Magazine Project.


Box 22 Folder 11 General, 1950-1970


Box 22 Folder 12 American Heritage Magazine , 1957-1966


Box 22 Folder 13 Magazine Account, 1948-1952


Box 22 Folder 14 Account Book, 1951-1954


Box 22 Folder 15 Correspondence, 1947-1954


Box 22 Folder 16 General Account--Reports, 1941-1961


Box 22 Folder 17 General Account--Statements and Notes, 1957-1974


Box 22 Folder 18 Tax Exemption, 1953-, 1973



Box 23 Folder 1 Tax Returns, 1967-1974


Box 23 Folder 2 Royalties, 1956-1972

Series VII: Allan Nevins--Personal Research Files, 1879-1886, undated

A small collection of Allen Nevins' research files, which include original documents, a box of index cards and handwritten research notes on the Rockefellers, make up this series.



Box 24 Folder 3 American States during and after the Revolution--Books and Articles on--Index Cards,, Undated


Rockefeller Records



Box 23 Folder 3 Folder Notes 2-29--1875-1885, Undated


Box 23 Folder 4 Folder Notes 31-69--1886-1915, Undated


Box 23 Folder 5 Letter Book Notes--1877-1882, Undated


Box 23 Folder 6-9 Originals--1879-1886, Undated, (4 Folders)