Carl Bridenbaugh

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Carl Bridenbaugh (August 10, 1903 - January 6, 1992) was an American historian of Colonial America.[1][2] He had an illustrious career, writing fourteen books and editing or co-editing five more, and he was acclaimed as a historian and teacher.[3]


Born in Philadelphia, he received his bachelor's degree from Dartmouth College in 1925, studied at the University of Pennsylvania for two years, and completed his master's and doctoral degrees at Harvard University in 1930 and 1936, respectively. Here he met his close mentor, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr.. He taught at MIT from 1927-1938, Harvard in 1929-30, and Brown University from 1938-1942 before leaving to serve in the U.S. Navy.

In 1938, the American Historical Association awarded Bridenbaugh's Cities in the Wilderness the Justin Winsor Prize for the best book by a young scholar on the history of the Americas, and the book quickly became a classic among historians. He was an organizer and the first director (1945-1950) of the Institute of Early American History and Culture, which he moved to Williamsburg, Virginia for five years to oversee. He was a fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (1956-8) and a Guggenheim fellow (1958-62). He later taught at the University of California, Berkeley 1950-62 and again at Brown from 1962 until his retirement in 1969. He was also president of the American Historical Association in 1962, stirring debate with a speech asserting that urbanite academics were unsuited to study Colonial American history because they did not understand rural culture.[4][2]

Personal life[edit]

Bridenbaugh married twice, first in 1931 to Jessica Hill, who died in 1943, and then a short time later to Roberta Haines Herriot (1902-1996). He died of cancer in Rhode Island Hospital, Providence.

He was a member of the Massachusetts Historical Society.


  • Cities in the Wilderness: The First Century of Urban Life in America, 1625-1742 (1938)
  • Rebels and Gentlemen: Philadelphia in the Age of Franklin (1942)
  • Peter Harrison: First American Architect (1949)
  • Seat of Empire (1950)
  • Cities in Revolt: Urban Life in America, 1743-1776 (1955)
  • Mitre and Sceptre: Transatlantic Faith, Ideas, Personalities, and Politics (1962)
  • Myths and Realities: Societies of the Colonial South (1963)
  • Vexed and Troubled Englishmen, 1590-1642: The Beginnings of the American People (1968)
  • No Peace Beyond the Line (1971)
  • Fat Mutton and Liberty of Conscience: Society in Rhode Island, 1636-1690 (1974)
  • The Spirit of '76': The Growth of American Patriotism Before Independence' (1975)
  • Jamestown 1544-1699 (1980)
  • Early Americans (1981)
  • The Colonial Craftsman (1990)


  1. ^ "Bridenbaugh, Carl". Encyclopedia Brunoniana. 1993. 
  2. ^ a b Lambert, Bruce (1992-01-12). "Carl Bridenbaugh; Teacher Who Wrote Many Books Was 88". New York Times. 
  3. ^ "Carl Bridenbaugh". Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 145 (3). September 2001. 
  4. ^ Bridenbaugh, Carl (1962). "AHA Presidential Address: The Great Mutation". Retrieved 2008-06-11.