20. Jahrhundert

Carl Lotus Becker ( 1873-1945 )


"The ,facts' of history do not exist for any historian until he creates them, and into every fact that he creates some part of his individual experience must enter. But experience not only furnishes the elements for the image which the sources guide us in forming: it is also the final court of appeal in evaluating the sources themselves."

Detachment and the Writing of History: Essays and Letters of Carl Becker, hg. von Phil L. Synder, Ithaca/NY 1958, S. 12.


Stimmen der Forschung

"Becker's reputation rests less on his substantive contributions to American history than on his challenges to those who wrote it. His dual-revolution thesis has been criticized für oversimplification and inaccuracies. His forays into intellectual history have been characterized as superficial. Even Becker's uncanny felicity of language, however captivating, often cloaked some hollow generalizations. [.] Withal, there comes through in all of Becker's writings a distrust of orthodoxies, a persistent search for knowledge, and a human faith in the power of the unfettered mind to promote the advancement of knowledge and human happiness."

Milton M. KLein: DLB, Bd. 17: Twentieth-century American Historians, S. 62.


"B. schrieb Sozialgeschichte als progressiver Historiker, der den Konflikt zwischen einer Besitzerelite und dem Volke betonte und die Verfassungsschöpfung als eine konservative Reaktion auf die demokratische Revolution auslegte. Ein zunehmender Skeptizismus und Psychologismus schwächten B.s Glauben an die absoluten Werte in der Unabhängigkeitserklärung, 'reine' Fakten in der Theorie u. eine auf reinen Verstand fundierte historische Kontinuität."

Ernst Breisach in: Rüdiger vom Bruch/Rainer A. Müller: Historikerlexikon, München 1991, S. 23.


"In 1931, caught up in the wave of social activism, Becker put a cheerful face on his scepticism. He called on historians to support the search of Everyman for meaning by casting the social and useful ,myths' into new and more attractive forms. It was a half-hearted attempt; Becker himself had long since stoically resigned himself to a life without absolute truth, even without useful myths."

Ernst Breisach : American Progressive History. An Experiment in Modernization, Chicago 1993, S. 329.


"Was ihn dauerhaft mit seinem Lehrer [Turner] verband, war seine Auffassung von der gesellschaftlichen Funktion des Historikers: Er sah seine Aufgabe darin, Fragestellungen, die sich aus Bedürfnissen der Gegenwart ergaben, an die Geschichte heranzutragen und so das gesellschaftliche Bewußtsein durch historische Erklärungen gegenwärtiger Entwicklungen zu erhellen."

Matthias Waechter: Die Erfindung des amerikanischen Westens. Die Geschichte der Frontier-Debatte, Freiburg i. Br. 1996, S. 176.


"His writing is remembered for its lucidity, force, and grace, his interpretations were well argued and stunning in their originality. Becker's importance as an historian reflects his broad interest in both, US and European, history as well as his creative if not iconoclastic interpretations. [.] As a ,man of letters' Becker repeated claimed he was interested in thinking about history rather than being an historian - his interest in historiography was genuine and consistent."

Robert A. Hatch: Historiography - Carl Becker, 1998, > http://web.clas.ufl.edu/users/rhatch/pages/02-TeachingResources/historiography/carl-becker.htm < (7.8.2003)


"His Modern History had an authority for Europeanists analogous to that of Beard's Rise of American Civilization among Americanists . His historical works were enthusiastically received throughout the profession, even among those whose orientation and sensibility were very different from his own."

Peter Novick: That Noble Dream. The "Objectivity Question" and the American Historical Profession, Cambridge u. a. 1998, S. 252.




Geboren in Lincoln Township bei Waterloo, Black Hawk County/IA, als Sohn von Charles DeWitt (Farmer und B ezirksrichter ) und Almeda, geb. Sarvay


Studium an der University of Wisconsin, B.Litt (Bachelor of Letters), u.a. bei Frederic Jackson Turner


PhD, Dissertation über "The History of Political Parties in the Province of New York "


Studium an der Columbia University (mit James Harvey Robinson), Litt.D (Doctor of Letters)


Lehrer für Geschichte und Politikwissenschaften am Pennsylvania State College


Heirat mit Maude Hepworth Ranney, ein Sohn


Lehrer für Geschichte am Dartmouth College


Professor für Europäische Geschichte an der University of Kansas


Professor für Europäische Geschichte an der University of Minnesota


Professor für Europäische Geschichte an der Cornell University


Gestorben in Ithaca/NY


Werke (Auswahl)


History of Political Parties in the Province of New York, 1760-1776, Madison/WI 1909


The Eve of the Revolution: a Chronicle of the Breach with England , New Haven/CT 1918 ( Toronto 1977)


The Declaration of Independence , Birmingham/AL 1922


The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-Century Philosophers, New Haven/CT 1932 (New Haven/CT ²2003)


Progress and Power, London 1936 ( New York 1949)


Everyman His Own History: Essays on History and Politics,
New York 1935


A Survey of European Civilization, hg. von Carl L. Becker, New York 1937


Story of Civilization, New York 1938, gemeinsam mit Frederic Duncalf


New Liberties for Old, New Haven 1941


Modern Democracy (Page-Barbour lectures 1940), New Haven 1941


How New will the Better World Be? A discussion of Post-War Reconstruction, New York 1944


Making a better world, London 1945


Freedom and Responsibility in the American Way of Life, Westport/CT 1945


Detachment and the Writing of History: Essays and Letters of Carl L. Becker, hg. von Phil L. Synder, Ithaca/NY 1958 (Westport/CT 1972)


Beginnings of the American people, by Carl Lotus Becker, Ithaca 1966


What is the good of history? Selected Letters of Carl L. Becker, 1900 - 1945, hg. von Michael Kammen, Ithaca 1973



Breisach , Ernst: American Progressive History. An Experiment in Modernization, Chicago 1993.

Brown, Robert Eldon: Carl Becker on History and the American Revolution, East Lansing/MI 1970.

Destler, Chester McArthur: Some Observations on Contemporary Historical Theory, in: AHR 55 (1950), S. 503-529.

Gershoy , Leo: Zagorin's Interpretation of Becker, in: AHR 62 (1956), S. 12-17.

Gottschalk, Louis: Carl Becker: Skeptic or Humanist?, in: JModH18 (1946), S. 160-162.

Klein, Milton M.: Carl L. Becker, in: Dictionary of Literary Biography, Bd. 17, Ann Arbor/MI 1983, S. 57-63.

Kraus, Michael/Davis D. Joyce: The Writing of American History, Norman/OK 1953.

Lingelbach, Gabriele: Klio macht Karriere. Die Institutionalisierung der Geschichtswissenschaft in Frankreich und den USA in der zweiten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts (Veröffentlichungen des Max-Planck-Institutes für Geschichte 181), Berlin 2003.

Mason, Bernard: The Heritage of Carl Becker. The Historiography of the Revolution in New York , in: New York Historical Society Quarterly 53 (1969), S. 127-147.

Morgan, Edmund: The American Revolution: A Review of Changing Interpretations, in: William H. Cartwright/Richard L. Watson ( Hgg. ): Interpreting and Teaching American History, 31 st Yearbook of the National Council for the Social Studies, Washington 1961.

Novick, Peter: That Noble Dream. The "Objectivity Question" and the American Historical Profession, Cambridge u. a. 1998. Perspectives on early American history;essays in honor of Richard B. Morris, ed. by Alden T. Vaughan/George Athan Billias, New York 1973.

Rockwood, Raymond O.: Carl Becker's Heavenly City Revisited, Hamden/CT 1968.

Sellers, Charles/Henry May/Neil R. McMillen: A Synopsis of American History, Chicago 7 1992.

Smith, Charlotte Watkins: Carl Becker. On History and the Climate of Opinion, Ithaca/NY 1956.

Strout , Cushing: The Pragmatic Revolt in American History. Carl Becker and Charles Beard, New Haven/CT 1958.

Waechter, Matthias: Die Erfindung des Westens. Die Frontier-Debatte, Freiburg i. Br. 1996.

Wilkins, Burleigh Taylor: Carl Becker. A Biographical Study in American Intellectual History, Cambridge 1961.

Zagorin , Perez: Professor Becker's Two Histories: A Skeptical Fallacy, in: AHR 62 (1956), S. 1-11.



a) Quellen


Eve of the Revolution


Auszüge aus Beckers " Eve of the Revolution"
Anbieter: Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.


Everyman His Own Historian


Annual address of the president of the American Historical Association, delivered at Minneapolis. December 29, 1931
Anbieter: AHA-Homepage.


b) Sekundärinformationen




kurzer Lexikoneintrag zu Beckers Leben und Werk
Anbieter: Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia.




Guide to the Carl Becker Papers, 1898-1956, Nachlassverzeichnis
Anbieter: Bibliothek der Cornell University, Ithaca .




E-Text über Progressive Historiography of the American War for Independence
Anbieter: Mike Crane , Department of Humanities Computing, University of Groningen, NL.




ausführlicher Beitrag zu Carl Becker mit bibliographischen Angaben
Anbieter: Robert A. Hatch, University of Florida .




Kurzbiografie mit Anmerkungen zu Carl Lotus Beckers Werk mit Beurteilung
Anbieter: Encyclopedia.com, aktuelle Artikel aus der Columbia Encyclopedia.




Aufsatz von Mike Crane über Progressive Historiography of the American War for Independence Department of Humanities Computing, Groningen, NL.


The Reviewing of Historical Books


Exzerpt zu Beckers Address at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association 1912
Anbieter: Christian Reviews in History, A Journal of Historical Understanding


Sarah-Leonie Kaufhold 



Erstellt: 04.03.2006

Zuletzt geändert: 24.07.2013

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