John Hope Franklin


Honorary Degree (1988)
Doctor of Laws
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: Thomas Ehrlich


John Hope Franklin is widely regarded as the premier historian of the Afro-American experience. His research and writing are unparalleled contributions to the understanding of the role of Black Americans in this nation's history, and his work on the history and culture of the South has left an enduring mark on the field.

Dr. Franklin received the A.B. from Fisk University in 1935, and the M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1936 and 1941. He began his professional career as an instructor in history at Fisk University in 1936-37 and subsequently taught at St. Augustine's College, North Carolina College, and Howard University before becoming chairman of the Department of History at Brooklyn College in 1956. In 1964 he joined the faculty of the University of Chicago, where he now holds the title of John Matthews Manly distinguished service professor emeritus. In 1982 he was appointed James B. Duke professor of history at Duke University, and he is currently also professor of legal history at Duke University Law School. He has held visiting professorships at universities in this country and in England, Australia, and New Zealand.

Dr. Franklin's leadership, vision, and influence have greatly strengthened professional organizations in the field of history. He has served as president of the American Historical Association, the Southern Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, the American Studies Association, and the United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa, and in executive positions in other professional associations. He also has served the federal government as a member of the Presidential Advisory Board on Ambassadorial Appointments and the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy. His distinguished scholarship is reflected in numerous awards and honors, including the Jefferson Medal Award of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the UCLA Medal, and the Clarence L. Holte Literary Prize. He is the recipient of honorary doctorates from more than seventy colleges and universities.

Dr. Franklin's publications, which include nearly one hundred articles and more than twenty books and series of which he is author or editor, are central to studies in history, literature, and sociology. A brilliant and inspiring teacher, he is an example to young historians of rigorous scholarship combined with humane values and the conviction that the study of history contributes vitally to the concerns of contemporary society.