David W. Noble

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David Watson Noble is a retired professor of American Studies at the University of Minnesota.[1] He is an historian of American intellectual trends and thought, and is a historiographer.

Noble was born on March 17, 1925, the youngest of four children. Raised on a dairy farm in Princeton, New Jersey, Noble saw first hand how the depression hurt families. His family farm was foreclosed on during the depression. Noble briefly served in the army during World War II, but was honorably discharged because of an injury that he received. Thanks to the G.I. Bill, he earned his undergraduate degree from Princeton University. Noble then went on to complete his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He began his teaching career at the University of Minnesota in 1952. Noble was initially a faculty member of the History Department, but later in his career he transferred over to the American Studies Program.[citation needed] Noble retired in 2009.[2]

Noble has written a number of books: The Paradox of Progressive Thought, 1958, Historians Against History: The Frontier Thesis and the National Covenant in Historical Writing since 1830, 1965, The Eternal Adam and the New World Garden, 1968, The Progressive Mind, 1981, The Restless Centuries: A History of the American People, (with Peter Carroll), 1973/1979, The Free and the Unfree: A Progressive History of the American People, 1992/1997/2001 (with Peter Carroll), Twentieth Century Limited: A History of Recent America, 1980, (with Peter Carroll and David Horowitz), The End of American History: Democracy, Capitalism and the Metaphor of Two Worlds in American Historical Writing, 1880-1980, 1985 and most recently Death of a Nation: American Culture and the End of Exceptionalism, 2002.

Noble is currently[when?] researching for a book on globalization. He has published over 250 articles and book reviews. The University of Minnesota began annually presenting the David Noble Lecture Series at the Minnesota History Museum in Saint Paul in the spring of 1996. The octogenarian professor taught until his retirement in the spring of 2009.[2] He has mentioned to his students that one of his claims to fame is that he “delivered milk to Einstein’s house when he was a boy.” Another claim to fame is that he had his phone tapped by Army Intelligence and the FBI during the Vietnam War.

Noble lives in an extended family household with his wife, his daughter and her husband, two of his grandchildren and a couple of honorary family members. He states that he lives in an extended family because, "[he] rejects the culture of modernity and identifies with traditional cultures". He died in 2010.


  1. ^ "David W Noble : History". University of Minnesota. Retrieved 2012-09-27. 
  2. ^ a b Prell, Riv-Ellen (2009). "Myriad Magazine : American Studies". University of Minnesota. Retrieved 2012-09-27.