Herbert Aptheker

Herbert Aptheker
Vital Statistics
 Name: Herbert Aptheker, Ph.D.
 Country of Origin: United States of America
 Occupations: Historian, Political Activist
 Year born: 1915
 Year died: 2003
 Age: 88
 ISNI: 0000 0001 1844 7431
 LCNA: n80016937
 Attribution:
Original Curator: MaryC

Herbert Aptheker was an American Marxist historian and political activist. He wrote more than 50 books, mostly in the fields of African American history and general U.S. history, most notably, American Negro Slave Revolts (1943), a classic in the field, and the 7-volume Documentary History of the Negro People (1951-1994). He compiled a wide variety of primary documents supporting study of African-American history.

From the 1940s, Aptheker was a prominent figure in U.S. scholarly discourse. David Horowitz described Aptheker as "the Communist Party’s most prominent Cold War intellectual".[1] He was blacklisted in academia during the 1950s because of his Communist Party membership.

Aptheker's master's thesis, a study of the 1831 Nat Turner slave revolt in Virginia, laid the groundwork for his future work on the history of American slave revolts. Aptheker revealed Turner's heroism, demonstrating how his rebellion was rooted in resistance to the exploitative conditions of the Southern slave system.

His NEGRO SLAVE REVOLTS IN THE UNITED STATES 1526-1860 (1939), includes a table of documented slave revolts by year and state. His doctoral dissertation, American Negro Slave Revolts, was published in 1943.

Doing research in Southern libraries and archives, he uncovered 250 similar episodes. It remains a landmark and a classic work in the study of Southern history and slavery.

Aptheker challenged racist writings, most notably those of Georgia-born historian Ulrich Bonnell Phillips. The latter had characterized enslaved African Americans as child-like, inferior, and uncivilized; argued that slavery was a benign institution; and defended the preservation of the Southern plantation system. Such works had been common in the field before Aptheker's scholarship revealed a much more nuanced society, in which African Americans acted from agency.

Considering himself a protégé of W. E. B. Du Bois, Aptheker long emphasized his mentor's social science scholarship and life-long struggle for African Americans to achieve equality.

In his work as a historian, he compiled a documentary history of African Americans in the United States, a monumental collection which he started publishing in 1951. It eventually resulted in seven volumes of primary documents, a tremendous resource for African-American studies.

Collaborators
Referenced In
Articles Published

First published:

Condensed List of Works
Detailed Body of Work
(18 listed)
Anti-Racism in U.S. History: The First Two Hundred Years
Herbert Aptheker - Anti-Racism in U.S. History
Many books, both popular and scholarly, have examined racism in the United States, but this unique volume is the first to examine the existence of anti-racism in the first two hundred years of U.S. history

Thema Categories: Discrimination & Racism, United States History
Published in: English
Editions available: 1
To Be Free: Pioneering Studies in Afro-American History
Herbert Aptheker - To Be Free
An Excerpt From The Introduction: The Negro’s past runs through the warp and woof of the fabric that is America. His history must be understood not only because it is the history of some fifteen million American citizens, but also...

Thema Categories: United States History, African American History
Published in: English
Editions available: 1
A Documentary History of the Negro People in the United States (Volume 2): From the Reconstruction to the Founding of the N.A.A.C.P.
Herbert Aptheker - A Documentary History of the Negro People in the United States (Volume 2)
Contemporary writings illuminating the struggles and achievements of African Americans since the seventeenth century are presented with brief historical notes

Thema Categories: African American History
Published in: English
Editions available: 2
Abolitionism: A Revolutionary Movement
Herbert Aptheker - Abolitionism
Looks at the impact of the Abolitionist movement, describes the roles Blacks played in gaining their own liberation, and discusses class consciousness

Thema Categories: Society and Social Sciences
Published in: English
Editions available: 2
Literary Legacy of W.E.B. Du Bois

Published in: English
Editions available: 1
The Nature of Democracy, Freedom, and Revolution
Herbert Aptheker - The Nature of Democracy, Freedom, and Revolution
I. Freedom in History Let us begin with two brief sentences taken from quite different authors. Once comes from Christopher Caudwell, killed while yet a youth, fighting fascism in Spain. “Liberty,” wrote this martyred Communist, “does seem to me the...

Thema Categories: United States History
Published in: English
Editions available: 2
The World of C. Wright Mills
Herbert Aptheker - The World of C. Wright Mills

Published in: English
Editions available: 1
American Foreign Policy and The Cold War
Herbert Aptheker - American Foreign Policy and The Cold War

Thema Categories: United States History
Published in: English
Editions available: 1
The Urgency of Marxist-Christian Dialogue
Herbert Aptheker - The Urgency of Marxist-Christian Dialogue
An Excerpt: Chapter One Views and Problems: An Introduction What conception of religion does one find in the philosophies of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels? Marxism sees the source, the root of religious feeling in a sense of awe and...

Published in: English
Editions available: 2
Nat Turner's Slave Rebellion: Including The 1831 "Confessions"
Herbert Aptheker - Nat Turner's Slave Rebellion
In the summer of 1831, a band of some forty slaves led by Nat Turner attacked slave-owning residents of Southampton County, Virginia. One of the largest and most violent revolts in the history of the young nation, the rebellion took...

Thema Categories: United States History, Discrimination & Racism
Published in: English
Editions available: 2
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