Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  John Hope Franklin  

Pen Name: None

Genre: C:ADULT

Born: January 2, 1915 in Rentiesville, Oklahoma


Illinois Connection

Franklin lived in Chicago. From 1964 through 1968, Franklin was a professor of history at the University of Chicago, and chair of the department from 1967-70. He was named to the endowed position of John Matthews Manly Distinguished Service Professor, which he held from 1969-82.

Biographical and Professional Information

John Hope Franklin was a noted scholar, historian, author and professor. He was a revered Duke University historian and scholar of life in the South and the African-American experience in the United States. Professor Emeritus of History at Duke University, he was best known for his work ''From Slavery to Freedom'', first published in 1947. Born and raised in an all-black community in Oklahoma where he was often subjected to humiliating incidents of racism, he was later instrumental in bringing down the legal and historical validations of such a world.As an author, his book ''From Slavery to Freedom'' was a landmark integration of black history into American history. As a scholar, his research helped Thurgood Marshall win Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 case that outlawed the doctrine of "separate but equal" in the nation's public schools.Franklin broke numerous color barriers. He was the first black department chair at a predominantly white institution, Brooklyn College; the first black professor to hold an endowed chair at Duke University; and the first black president of the American Historical Association.Above all, he documented how blacks had lived and served alongside whites from the nation's birth. Black patriots fought at Lexington and Concord, Franklin pointed out in "From Slavery to Freedom," published in 1947. They crossed the Delaware with Washington and explored with Lewis and Clark. The text sold millions of copies and remains required reading in college classrooms.Late in life, Franklin chaired President Clinton's Initiative on Race and received more than 100 honorary degrees, the NAACP's Spingarn Award and in 1995 the ''Presidential Medal of Freedom'', the nation's highest civilian honor.As he aged, Franklin spent more time in the greenhouse behind his home, where he nursed orchids, than in library stacks. He fell in love with the flowers because "they're full of challenges, mystery" — the same reasons he fell in love with history.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library


-- *1978 - selected by ''Who's Who in America'' as one of eight Americans who has made significant contributions to society and elected to the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. *1984 - received the ''Jefferson Medal'', awarded by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. *1989 - the first recipient of the ''Cleanth Brooks Medal of the Fellowship of Southern Writers''. *1990 - received the ''Encyclopedia Britannica Gold Medal for the Dissemination of Knowledge''. *1993 - received the ''Charles Frankel Prize'' for contributions to the humanities. *1994 - received the ''Cosmos Club Award'' and the ''Trumpet Award'' from Turner Broadcasting Corporation. *1995 - received the first ''W.E.B. DuBois Award'' from the Fisk University Alumni Association, the ''Organization of American Historians' Award for Outstanding Achievement'', the ''Alpha Phi Alpha Award of Merit'', the NAACP's ''Spingarn Medal'', and the ''Presidential Medal of Freedom''. *1996 - elected to the ''Oklahoma Historians Hall of Frame''. *1997 - received the ''Peggy V. Helmerich Distinguished Author Award''. *In addition to his many awards, Dr. Franklin has received honorary degrees from more than one hundred colleges and universities.