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March 17: Herbert Aptheker

Radical historian Herbert Aptheker, author of the seven-volume Documentary History of the Negro People in the United States and literary executor for W.E.B. DuBois, whose correspondence he published between 1973 and ’78, died at 87 on this date in 2003. Aptheker was a pioneering and prolific writer about black American history, including about slave revolts […]

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September 7: Heinrich Graetz’s History of the Jews

German historian and Biblical scholar Heinrich Graetz, whose eleven-volume History of the Jews, published between 1853 and 1876, is widely seen as the first narrative Jewish history written from a Jewish perspective and capturing the entire sweep of Jewish history, died at 73 on this date in 1891. Graetz, a product of traditional yeshivas during […]

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October 25: Sir Martin Gilbert and the Holocaust

Martin Gilbert, the official biographer of Winston Churchill (about whom he wrote 30 books!) and an important historian of the Holocaust and Jewish resistance to Nazism, was born in London on this date in 1936 and evacuated to Canada as World War II began. At Oxford in 1962, he was approached by Randolph Churchill to […]

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October 1: The Communist Who Couldn’t Quit

British Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm, author of an acclaimed trilogy about the rise of industrial capitalism, colonialism, and imperialism, died in London at 95 on this date in 2012. Born in Egypt, Hobsbawm was orphaned at 14 and went to live with relatives in Berlin. The rise of Nazism drove the family to London, and […]

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September 10: Simon Dubnow

Simon Dubnow, one of the founders of modern Jewish historical scholarship and a prolific memoirist and essayist about secular Jewish life and politics in Eastern Europe, was murdered at age 81 by the Nazis during the liquidation of the Riga Ghetto on this date in 1941. Dubnow was an advocate the Haskalah, or Jewish Enlightenment, […]

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October 26: While Messiah Tarried

An historian of the Holocaust and of the Jewish Left, Nora Levin died at 73 on this date in 1989. Her books were The Holocaust: The Destruction of European Jewry, 1933-1945 (1968); While Messiah Tarried: Jewish Socialist Movements, 1871-1917  (1977); and The Jews in the Soviet Union since 1917: Paradox of Survival (two volumes, 1989). […]

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December 14: Philip and Jack Foner

Two of the four Foner brothers who were leaders in the American labor movement and progressive academic circles were born on this date in 1910. Philip Foner wrote and edited more than 110 books, many involving groundbreaking research: on American slavery, on black history, on women and social activists as agents of change in America, […]

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January 27: Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States and a lifelong radical historian and activist, died on this date in 2010 at age 87. His anti-war politics were informed by his experiences as a bombardier during World War II: “the history of bombing— and no one has bombed more than this nation,” […]

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