Scholarship and Commitment (1937-1948)


Scholarship and Commitment (1937-1948)


This collection includes information about Hofstadter's scholarly and political development following his graduation from the University of Buffalo in 1936. Items include images and documents from his years as a graduate student at Columbia University and as a young professor and historian living first in New York City and then in Maryland. This collection will be of particular relevance to those who are interested in Hofstadter's early writings, including The American Political Tradition, as well as those who are interested in his relationship to the Communist Party in the late 1930s.


Benjamin Serby


Richard Hofstadter Estate. Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University in the City of New York



Collection Items

Felice Swados Writing Novel
Felice Swados Writing Novel, 1940. Oil on canvas by Margaret LeFranc.

Felice Swados, Reform School Girl
Cover image of Felice Swados's Reform School Girl from 1948, originally published in 1941 as House of Fury.

The Need of New Values
Richard Hofstadter, review of Georgia Harkness, "The Recovery of Ideals," New York Herald Tribune, June 6, 1937

A Medieval Spirit in the Modern World
Richard Hofstadter, review of Vida Dutton Scudder, "On Journey," New York Herald Tribune, April 18, 1937.

Academic Survivals of Predatory Traits, ca. 1940
Satirical description of the world of academia, written by Richard Hofstadter around 1940.

Merle Curti Letter
Letter from Merle Curti to Hofstadter, 1946.

Jefferson's Ideas on Class Relations
"Jefferson's Ideas of Class Relations," an essay written by Richard Hofstadter for a graduate seminar in intellectual history taught by Merle Curti at Columbia University in the late 1930s.

Politics of the 1840s
A research paper, written by Richard Hofstadter while a graduate student at Columbia University, about the politics of New York City's working class in the 1830s and '40s.

Evicted sharecroppers along Highway 60, New Madrid County, Missouri
Photograph of evicted sharecroppers, 1939.

Social Darwinism in American Thought (1944)
Advertisement for Social Darwinism In American Thought, early 1940s.

Photo of William Graham Sumner
William Graham Sumner, apostle of rugged individualism in the Gilded Age.

Letter from Columbia, 1944
Letter from John A. Krout, professor of history at Columbia University, 1944.

American Political Tradition Book Jacket
Book jacket for Richard Hofstadter's copy of The American Political Tradition and the Men Who Made It, original edition, 1940s.

Cover page, "William Leggett, Spokesman of Jacksonian Democracy"
Cover of Hofstadter's article, "William Leggett, Spokesman of Jacksonian Democracy," in Political Science Quarterly, December, 1943.

Notes on "the Spoilsmen," for The American Political Tradition
Notes for Chapter 7 of The American Political Tradition, "The Spoilsmen: An Age of Cynicism"

Notes on Andrew Jackson, for The American Political Tradition
Notes taken by Richard Hofstadter on President Andrew Jackson, for chapter 3 of his book, The American Political Tradition,entitled "Andrew Jackson and the Rise of Liberal Capitalism"

"History Debunked Realistically but to Excess." Review of The American Political Tradition.
1948 review of The American Political Tradition, with accompanying photograph of Richard Hofstadter. Publication unknown.

Photograph of Richard Hofstadter, ca. 1948
Photograph of Richard Hofstadter, ca. 1948, which accompanied a review of The American Political Tradition entitled "History Debunked Realistically but to Excess."

Review of American Political Tradition in The New York Herald Tribune, September 19, 1948.
Review of American Political Tradition in The New York Herald Tribune (Weekly Book Review), September 19, 1948, written by Avery Craven.

"From Calhoun to the Dixiecrats"
Cover page of a draft of Richard Hofstadter's article, "From Calhoun to the Dixiecrats," which appeared in the June 1949 issue of Social Research.

Various Reviews of The American Political Tradition, 1948-1949.
Included below are (1) "Politics and Classes," a review of The American Political Tradition in The New International, a Trotskyist newspaper; (2) reviews of the same book from The Washington Star and The Columbus Dispatch, Sept. 26, 1948; (3) "Some…

Hostile letter in response to The American Political Tradition
Hostile letter to Richard Hofstadter in response to his 1948 book, The American Political Tradition.

Cover page of The American Political Tradition, unpublished introduction.
The cover page of Richard Hofstadter's unpublished introduction to The American Political Tradition, with marginalia and drawings by the author.
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