One of the most distinguished of his generation of African American historians, Benjamin A. Quarles received his PhD in our department in 1940. He worked with U.S. historian William B. Hesseltine and published his first article in the Journal of Negro History in 1938. His dissertation, a biography of Frederick Douglass, was published to critical acclaim in 1948 and was followed by a number of prominent monographs and textbooks that put African Americans at the center of American history.
Quarles taught for many years at Morgan State University in Baltimore, where the Benjamin A. Quarles Humanities and Social Science Institute is named in his honor. His many distinctions included a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1958 and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History Lifetime Achievement award in 1996.
Sources: “Benjamin A. Quarles (1904-1996),” BlackPast.org; August Meier, “Benjamin Quarles and the Historiography of Black America,” Civil War History 26 (June 1980): 101-116; Jean Thompson and M. Dion Thompson, “A Scholar, a Writer, a Gentleman Historian,” Baltimore Sun, November 24, 1996. Special thanks to Harvey Long (MA, 2016, UW-Madison iSchool) for sharing sources on Quarles.