Alfred F. Young

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Alfred F. Young
Al Young as he appeared in 1999
Al Young as he appeared in 1999
Born Alfred F. Young
(1925-01-17)January 17, 1925
New York City
Died November 6, 2012(2012-11-06) (aged 87)
Duham, North Carolina
Occupation Historian, writer
Alma mater Queens College (1946); Columbia University (1947); Northwestern University (1958)
Period 1958-2012
Subject social history of the American Revolution
Spouse Marilyn Mills

Alfred Fabian "Al" Young (1925–2012) was an American historian. Young is regarded as a pioneer in the writing of the social history of the American Revolution and was a founding editor of the academic journal Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas.

Biography[edit]

Early years[edit]

Alfred Fabian Young, known to family and friends as "Al," was born January 17, 1925,[1] in New York City.[2] He was the second son of Gerson Yungowitz, a Polish-born ethnic Jew who had grown up in London, and the former Fanny Denitzen, an East European émigré to America.[3] The family surname was Americanized to Young after his father's arrival in America.[3] His parents divorced when Al was a child and he was raised by his mother[3] in suburban Jamaica, New York.[4]

Young attended public schools, graduating from Jamaica High School in Jamaica, Queens at the age of 16, academically ranked 4th in his class of 400 students.[3] He subsequently attended Queens College, from which he graduated in 1946 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics.[3] His experience at Queens College was important in his intellectual development as a budding social historian with an emphasis on the working class, as it was there that he studied under pioneer industrial historian Vera Shlakman as well as scholar of the Haymarket affair and biographer of Terence Powderly, Henry David.[3]

Young went on to earn a Master's degree from Columbia University in 1947, from whence he moved to Northwestern University in Chicago, where he began work on a PhD.[3]

After three years of course work at Northwestern, Young took a series of teaching jobs at three eastern universities, while continuing to work on his dissertation in his spare time.[3] He was ultimately awarded his PhD by Northwestern in 1958.[3] His thesis title was "The Democratic-Republican movement in New York State, 1788-1797".[5]

In 1952 Young married Marilyn Mills, with whom he ultimately raised three daughters.[3]

Academic career[edit]

After working in a series of temporary positions, in 1964 Young was hired by Northern Illinois University to a tenure track position in the field of American history.[2] He would continue to teach there for a quarter century before his retirement in 1989.[2]

His first book, The Democratic Republicans of New York: The Origins, 1763-1797, was published in 1967 and won accolades from the Institute of Early American History and Culture, which awarded it its Jamestown Prize.[2]

During the tumultuous era of the Vietnam war, Young emerged as an outspoken advocate of academic freedom and the defense of college professors with political views outside the mainstream from employment retaliation. He was the founder of the Committee on Academic Freedom in Illinois in 1968, an organization formed to halt the blacklisting of radical historian Staughton Lynd,[3] and was active in the Committee on the Rights of Historians of the American Historical Association from its inception in 1971.[6]

After his retirement from teaching, Young took a position as a Senior Scholar in Residence at the Newberry Library in Chicago.[7] Freed from the constraints of the classroom, Young managed to increase his literary productivity, releasing several essays collections and expanding his influential 1981 article on colonial shoemaker George Roberts Twelves Hewes into book form as The Shoemaker and the Tea Party: Memory and the American Revolution (1999).[2] He also published an important biography of a seldom-remembered colonial woman who assumed a male gender identity in order to fight in the Revolutionary War, Masquerade: The Live and Times of Deborah Sampson, Continental Soldier (2005).[7]

In 2004, Young was a founding editor of the academic journal Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas, published today by Duke University Press.[8]

Death and legacy[edit]

Al Young was stricken by his first heart attack in May 2012.[9] His productive work as a working historian was thereby brought to an end.

Young died November 6, 2012, in Durham, North Carolina, following a second heart attack — this time fatal.[9] He was 87 years old at the time of his death.

Young was remembered by his peers as a scholar of broad intellect with an exhaustive knowledge of his area of specialization. Historian Gregory Nobles, a collaborator with Young on a book project, recalled: "It’s hard to imagine anyone who knew the field better or cared more about really getting history right, especially about getting ordinary people — and their politics — into the picture."[9]

Characterizing him as a "New Left historian before there was a New Left," historian Michael D. Hattem declared that "Young’s greatest historiographical legacy may be his commitment to the idea that everyday people were historical actors, and the fact that that hardly seems revolutionary or revelatory is largely because of Al Young."[2]

Works[edit]

Books[edit]

  • The Democratic Republicans of New York: The Origins, 1763-1797. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1967, ISBN 9780807838211.[10]
  • Dissent: Explorations in the History of American Radicalism. DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 1968, ISBN 9780875800073.[11]
  • Beyond the American Revolution: Explorations in the History of American Radicalism American Promise: A Compact History. DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 1993, ISBN 9780875801766.[12]
  • The Shoemaker and the Tea Party: Memory and the American Revolution. Boston: Beacon Press, 2000, ISBN 9780807071403.[13]
  • Masquerade: The Life and Times of Deborah Sampson, Continental Soldier. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004, ISBN 9780679441656.[14]
  • Liberty Tree: Ordinary People and the American Revolution. New York: New York University Press, 2006, ISBN 9780814796856.[15]
  • Whose American Revolution Was It?: Historians Interpret the Founding. With Gregory H. Nobles. New York: New York University Press, 2011, ISBN 9780814797105.[16]

Edited volumes[edit]

  • The American Revolution: Explorations in the History of American Radicalism. Editor. DeKalb, IL: Northern Illinois University Press, 1976, ISBN 0875800572.[17]
  • We the People: Voices and Images of the New Nation. Editor, with Mary E. Janzen and Terry J. Fife. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1992, ISBN 0877229376.
  • Past Imperfect: Essays on History, Libraries, and the Humanities. Editor, with Lawrence W. Towner and Robert W. Karrow Jr. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993, ISBN 0226810429.
  • Revolutionary Founders: Rebels, Radicals, and Reformers in the Making of the Nation. Editor, with Gary B. Nash and Ralph Raphael. New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2011, ISBN 9780307271105.[18]

Journal articles[edit]

  • "George Roberts Twelves Hewes (1742–1840): A Boston Shoemaker and the Memory of the American Revolution," William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 38, no. 4 (Oct. 1981), pp. 561-623. JSTOR 1918907
  • "An Outsider and the Progress of a Career in History," William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 52, no. 3 (July 1995), pp. 499–512. JSTOR 2947305

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ "Alfred Young Obituary". The News & Observer. Raleigh, NC. November 11, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Michael D. Hattem, "Roundtable: The Legacy of Alfred F. Young," The Junto, Nov. 3, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Gary B. Nash, "In Memoriam: Alfred F. Young," Uncommon Sense, Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, no. 131 (Winter 2013).
  4. ^ "An Outsider and the Progress of a Career in History," William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 52, no. 3 (July 1995), pg. 500.
  5. ^ "Catalogue record for Young's PhD thesis". Worldcat. Retrieved 10 September 2017.
  6. ^ Jesse Lemisch, "Remembering Al Young," Labor and Working-Class History Association, Nov. 16, 2012.
  7. ^ a b Chris Cantwell, "In Memorium: Al Young," The Newberry, Nov. 14, 2012.
  8. ^ Leon Fink, "Remembering Al Young," Labor and Working-Class History Association, Nov. 16, 2012.
  9. ^ a b c Gregory Nobles, "In Memoriam: Alfred F. Young (1925-2012)," From the Square, New York University Press blog, Nov. 13, 2012.
  10. ^ Reviews of The Democratic Republicans of New York: The Origins: Richard K. Murdoch (1968), Georgia Historical Quarterly 52 (2): 229–230, JSTOR 40578835; James Staton Chase (1968), The Historian 30 (3): 500–501, JSTOR 24441257; Jennings B. Sanders (1968), Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 378: 173–174, JSTOR 1037489; Patrick J. Furlong (1968), Indiana Magazine of History 64 (1): 73–74 [1]; Jack M. Sosin (1968), American Historical Review 73 (5): 1624–1625, doi:10.2307/1851540; Morton Borden (1968), Journal of American History 54 (4): 879–880, doi:10.2307/1918088; Linda Grant De Pauw (1968), New York History 49 (2): 229–230, JSTOR 23162745; Carl E. Prince (1968), The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 92 (2): 255–257, JSTOR 20090168; Manning J. Dauer (1968), American Political Science Review 62 (2): 594–596, doi:10.2307/1952959; Broadus Mitchell (1968), Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies 35 (3): 326–328, JSTOR 27771713.
  11. ^ Reviews of Dissent: Explorations in the History of American Radicalism: Ray Ginger (1969),Canadian Historical Review 50 (4): 476–477 Michael E. Parrish (1970), Pacific Northwest Quarterly 61 (2): 123, JSTOR 40488789 Phillip S. Paludan (1971), The Historian 33 (3): 490, JSTOR 24441323 [2].
  12. ^ Reviews of Beyond the American Revolution: Explorations in the History of American Radicalism: David Waldstreicher (1994), Australasian Journal of American Studies 13 (2): 89–92, JSTOR 41053748 Barbara Karsky (1994), William and Mary Quarterly 51 (4): 816–818, doi:10.2307/2946958 Michael A. Bellesiles (1995), Journal of American History 82 (2): 698, doi:10.2307/2082230.
  13. ^ Reviews of The Shoemaker and the Tea Party: Memory and the American Revolution: Michael Kammen (1999), New England Quarterly 72 (3): 480–483, doi:10.2307/366894; T. J. Schaeper (1999), Library Journal 124 (13): 115 Edward Countryman (2000), Journal of American History 87 (2): 648–649, doi:10.2307/2568798; Fred Anderson (2001), American Historical Review 106 (1): 163–164, doi:10.1086/ahr/106.1.163; Charles Davis (2001), The American Prospect [3].
  14. ^ Reviews of Masquerade: The Life and Times of Deborah Sampson, Continental Soldier: Anne S. Lombard (2004), Reviews in American History 32 (4): 493–498, JSTOR 30031437; A. Taylor (2004), The New Republic 230 (23): 32; E. Morris (2004), Library Journal 129 (2): 102; Vera Laska (2005), International Social Science Review 80 (1/2): 82–84, JSTOR 41887227; Caroline Cox (2006), Journal of American History 93 (2): 502, doi:10.2307/4486256; Martha Saxton (2006), William and Mary Quarterly 63 (3): 629–631, JSTOR 3877386; Thomas E. Conroy (2007), Labor: Studies in Working-Class History 4 (4): 111–112, doi:10.1215/15476715-2007-037; Steven C. Bullock (2007), American Historical Review 112 (1): 190, doi:10.1086/ahr.112.1.190.
  15. ^ Review of Liberty Tree: Ordinary People and the American Revolution: James S. Kabala (2008), Journal of the Early Republic 28 (3): 517–522, doi:10.1353/jer.0.0016.
  16. ^ Reviews of Whose American Revolution Was It?: Historians Interpret the Founding: Eric Hinderaker (2012), Journal of the Early Republic 32 (3): 499–503, doi:10.1353/jer.2012.0062; Philip Ranlet (2012), The Historian 74 (3): 596–598, doi:10.1111/j.1540-6563.2012.00328_35.x.
  17. ^ Reviews of The American Revolution: Explorations in the History of American Radicalism: Jesse Lemisch (1977), The American Historical Review 82 (3): 737–739, doi:10.2307/1851091 Jeffrey J. Crow (1977), North Carolina Historical Review 54 (1): 88–89, JSTOR 23529919; Horst Dippel (1977), Historische Zeitschrift 225 (1): 169–170, JSTOR 27620283.
  18. ^ Reviews of Revolutionary Founders: Rebels, Radicals, and Reformers in the Making of the Nation: Mary Beth Norton (2011), New York Times Sunday Book Review [4]; Christopher P. Magra (2011), New England Quarterly 84 (4): 737–740, JSTOR 23054834; Philip Ranlet (2012), The Historian 74 (4): 863–864, doi:10.1111/j.1540-6563.2012.00334_39.x; Robert G. Parkinson (2012), Journal of American History 99 (2): 579–581, doi:10.1093/jahist/jas217.

Further reading[edit]

  • Alan Taylor, Writing Early American History. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006.

External links[edit]