George M. Fredrickson

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George M. Fredrickson (July 16, 1934 – February 25, 2008) was an American author, activist, historian, and professor. He was the Edgar E. Robinson Emeritus Professor of History at Stanford University until his retirement in 2002 and continued to publish.[1] One of his best known works remains to be White Supremacy: A Comparative Study of American and South African History which made him the finalist of the Pulitzer Prize for History.

George M. Fredrickson
BornJuly 16, 1934
DiedFebruary 25, 2008 (2008-02-26) (aged 73)
Cause of deathHeart failure
NationalityAmerican
OrganizationStanford University
Known forWhite Supremacy: a Comparative Study in American and South African History

Early Life and Education[edit]

Fredrickson was born on July 16, 1934 in Bristol, Connecticut and spent his most of his life in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He attended high school in South Dakota, was accepted into Harvard University, and graduated magna cum laude in 1956. [1]Joining the Navy, he served for three years before being discharged in 1960. Returning to Harvard University, he earned his doctorate in 1964. 

Academic Career and Activism[edit]

After receiving his doctorate, Fredrickson taught at the university for three years before moving to Northwestern University. He was a William Smith Mason Professor after 1979 and moved onto teach at Stanford University until his retirement. He was a Fullbright scholar at the University of Olso during his undergraduate years and a Fullbright professor at the University of Moscow in 1983. [2] In his college years, he was one of the many white college students who traveled to the South in support of the civil rights movement for African Americans and joined the March on Washington in 1963.[3][4] Fredrickson was avid in his protest against the apartheid in South Africa, even "urging Stanford to divest its stock in companies doing business with South Africa" and with the late Stanford sociologist St. Clair Drake, "delivered a petition signed by 206 faculty members to the Stanford Board of Trustees."[5]

In the foreword of Racism: A Short History republished in 2015, Stanford Historian Albert M. Camarillo discusses the courses that he co-wrote and taught with George Fredrickson. They developed a survey course called "Race and Ethnicity in the American Experience" that "examined how ideologies of race were manifested in societal institutions and policies that shaped the socioeconomic statues of communities of color in North America from the colonial era (British and Spanish) through the twentieth century." [3] Another course that they taught was "Comparative Perspectives on Race and Ethnicity" which were inspired by a seminar they participated from 1992 to 1994. He co-founded the Research Institute of Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity at Stanford in 1996.[6]

Fredrickson was the president of the Organization for American Historians in 1997-98 and was appointed twice as a senior fellow for the National Endowment for the Humanities. He received fellowships from the Humanities Center and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.[5] Fredrickson was best known for his work in the fields of comparative history, along with his work in the study of the history of racism and white supremacy.

Works[edit]

In his lifetime, George Fredrickson published many works covering themes of racism, equality, and shifting ideology.

He published nine books:

  1. The Inner Civil War: Northern Intellectuals and the Crisis of the Union (1965)
  2. The Black Image in the White Mind (1971)
  3. White Supremacy: A Comparative Study of American and South African History (1981)
  4. Arrogance of Race: Historical Perspectives on Slavery, Racism, and Social Inequality (1988)
  5. Black Liberation: A Comparative History of Black Ideologies in the United States and South Africa (1995)
  6. The Comparative Imagination: On Racism, Nationalism, and Social Movements (1997)
  7. Racism: A Short History (2002)
  8. Big Enough to Be Inconsistent: Abraham Lincoln Confronts Slavery and Race (2008)

Fredrickson's Racism captured his conception "of racial inequality and racism, as ideology and practice in Western societies over the past half millennium," and how it is "based on the three primary components: ideas of racial purity, cultural essentialism or particularism, and a "them" vs. "us" mindset in which difference and power (and powerlessness) structured racist regimes." [7]

His essays and articles included expanding on themes of comparative ideology on racism in the United States and South Africa.

Awards[edit]

  • Pulitzer Prize for History Finalist 1982
  • Merle Curti Award from the Organization of American Historians 1982
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson Award from the Phi Beta Kappa Society
  • Aniesfield Wolf Book Award
  • Cox Award for Encouraging Undergraduate Research 2002 from Stanford[8]

Personal Life and Death[edit]

He was married to his wife Hélène Osouf for 52 years and had four children. Fredrickson died on February 25th in 2008 of heart failure at the age of 73.[9]

Bibliography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Martin, Douglas. "George Fredrickson, 73, Historian, Dies". Retrieved 2018-11-19.
  2. ^ Fredrickson, George M. (1987). The Black Image in the White Mind. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press. p. 5. ISBN 0-8195-6188-6.
  3. ^ a b Fredrickson, George M. (2015). Racism: A Short History. Princeton New Jersey: Princeton University Press. pp. 9–10. ISBN 978-0-691-16705-3.
  4. ^ Woo, Elaine (2008-03-06). "Author was expert on history of racism". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2018-11-17.
  5. ^ a b "George Fredrickson, influential voice on race, racism, dies at 73". Stanford University. Retrieved 2018-11-19.
  6. ^ "George Marsh Fredrickson (1934-2008)". The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education (59): 86–86. 2008.
  7. ^ Fredrickson, George M. (2015). Racism: A Short History. Princeton New Jersey: Princeton University Press. pp. 9–10. ISBN 978-0-691-16705-3.
  8. ^ "Guide to the George M. Fredrickson Papers". oac.cdlib.org. Retrieved 2018-11-12.
  9. ^ "George Fredrickson, influential voice on race, racism, dies at 73". Stanford University. Retrieved 2018-11-19.

Further reading[edit]

  • Ariela J. Gross, Leslie M. Harris (May 2008). "In Memoriam: George M. Fredrickson". Perspectives on History. American Historical Association.
  • Fredrickson, George M. “Two Southern Historians.” The American Historical Review, vol. 75, no. 5, 1970, pp. 1387–1392. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/1844483.

External links[edit]