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American historian Oscar Handlin dies

JTA

September 22, 2011 | 4:47 pm

Oscar Handlin, one of the foremost American historians of the 20th century, has died.

Handlin, who taught at Harvard University for more than half a century, died Tuesday of a heart attack at his home in Cambridge, Mass. He was 95.

He was one of the first generation of American Jews to enter the discipline of American history, and the first Harvard historian to take an interest in the history of American Jews.

Handlin served as the Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and then Carl M. Loeb University Professor emeritus at Harvard. He was university librarian from 1979 to 1984 and acting director of the Harvard University Press in 1972. He wrote more than 30 books on an array of topics such as family, education, race, freedom and historiography.

The Brooklyn native was the son of Russian immigrants. He entered Brooklyn College at the age of 15 and four years later began graduate school at Harvard, according to the Boston Globe.

Handlin joined the Harvard faculty in 1939 as an instructor and remained there until his retirement.

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