Fred Albert Shannon

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Fred Albert Shannon
Born (1893-02-12)February 12, 1893
Sedalia, Missouri
Died 4 June 1963(1963-06-04) (aged 70)
Resting place Mount Hope Cemetery, Urbana, Illinois

Fred Albert Shannon (February 12, 1893 – February 4, 1963) was an American historian and a Pulitzer Prize winner. He had many publications related to American history, and he won the 1929 Pulitzer Prize for History for The Organization and Administration of the Union Army, 1861-1865 (1928).


Early life[edit]

Fred Albert Shannon was born February 12, 1893, in Sedalia, Missouri, the son of Louis Tecumseh Shannon and Sarah Margaret (Sparks) Shannon. By 1900, his family was living in Harrison Township, Clay County, Indiana. He completed a B.A degree at the Indiana State Teachers College and an M.A. degree at Indiana University in 1918.


He worked as a school teacher, and then became professor of history at Iowa Wesleyan College in 1919. Five years later, he completed a Ph.D. degree at the University of Iowa and became assistant professor of history at the Iowa State Teachers College.

In 1926, he moved to the Kansas State College of Agriculture and Applied Science, where he was associate professor of history for several years. During this time, he also taught at Cornell College (1924) and Ohio State University (1929) in the summer session.[1] From 1939 to 1961, he was professor of history at the University of Illinois and served many years as chairman of its history department.[2][3]

He was a member of the American Historical Association and was on the executive committee of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association.[1]

Personal life[edit]

He was married to Edna M. (Jones) Shannon (born November 10, 1891, and died January 2, 1953). They had five children; Lucile, Mary, Edna, Marjory and Frederick A. Shannon, M.D., herpetologist.

He died on February 4, 1963. He had just begun a semester as a visiting professor at the University of South Carolina.[4] He was buried with his wife in Mount Hope Cemetery, Urbana, Illinois.[5]

Assessment of his work[edit]

Shannon edited various publications and contributed to professional journals.[1] He wrote history from the perspective of an average American. He believed that it was the value of average Americans that shaped the United States, and he had low regard for wealthy Americans.[6] In 1928 Shannon wrote a two-volume book The Organization and Administration of the Union Army, 1861-1865, which covered the history of the Union Army.[1][6] He won the Pulitzer Prize for History for the book in 1929.[1] He also was an editor and contributor to the Holt, Rinehart and Winston series The Economic History of the United States.

Since his death, some of Shannon's writing on Southern slavery has been criticized as being racist.[7] In fact Shannon's own description of post-Civil War southern agriculture was strongly critical of the exploitation of African-American share farmers by white landowners.[8]

Selected publications[edit]

  • The Organization and Administration of the Union Army, 1861-1865 (1928)
  • The Farmer’s Last Frontier: Agriculture, 1860-1897 (1945, reprinted in 1968)
  • American Farmers’ Movements (1957)
  • The Centennial Years: A Political and Economic History of America from Late 1870s to the Early 1890s (1967)


  1. ^ a b c d e Fischer (1994), p. 53
  2. ^ Fred A. Shannon Papers | University of Illinois Archives
  3. ^ National Archives Draft Registration card Serial No U 2017, dated April 27, 1942, for Fred Albert Shannon< Urbana Local Board No 1, Champaign, Illinois
  4. ^ Brennan (1999), p. 283
  5. ^ Fred Shannon at Find A Grave
  6. ^ a b Brennan (1999), p. 284
  7. ^ Bishop, Katherine (February 16, 1987). "Bicentennial Panel in California Assailed over 'Racist' Textbook". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-10-26. 
  8. ^ Shannon, Fred (1968). The Farmer's Last Frontier: Agriculture, 1860-1897. New York: Harper & Row. pp. 76–100. 


  • Fischer, Heinz Dietrich; Erika J. Fischer (1994). American History Awards, 1917-1991: From Colonial Settlements to the Civil Rights Movement. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 3-598-30177-4. 
  • Brennan, Elizabeth A.; Elizabeth C. Clarage (1999). Who's who of Pulitzer Prize Winners. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 1-57356-111-8. 

External links[edit]