Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  John Hope Franklin  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult;

Born: January 2, 1915 in Rentiesville, Oklahoma

Died: March 25, 2009 in Durham, North Carolina

-- John Hope Franklin Biography on Duke University Libraries Page --
-- John Hope Franklin Memorial on Duke University Website --
-- John Hope Franklin on National Visionary Leadership Project Website --
-- John Hope Franklin on the Official Website of the Presidential Medal of Freedom --
-- John Hope Franklin on Website --
-- Wikipedia --
-- John Hope Franklin on WorldCat --

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.

Selected Titles At Your Library

Runaway slaves :
ISBN: 0195084519. OCLC Number:

Oxford University Press,. New York :. 1999.

"In this book, John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger demonstrate that, contrary to popular belief, significant numbers of slaves did in fact frequently rebel against their masters and struggle to attain their freedom. By surveying a wealth of documents, such as planters' records, petitions to county courts and state legislatures, and local newspapers, this book shows how slaves resisted; when, where, and how they escaped; where they fled to; how long they remained in hiding; and how they survived away from the plantation. Of equal importance, it examines the reactions of the white slaveholding class, revealing how they marshaled considerable effort to prevent runaways, meted out severe punishments, and established patrols to hunt down escaped slaves." "Reflecting a lifetime of thought by our leading authority in African American history, this book provides the key to truly understanding the relationship between slaveholders and the runaways who challenged the system - illuminating as never before the true nature of the South's "most peculiar institution.""--Jacket.

The militant South, 1800-1861 /
ISBN: 0252070690. OCLC Number:

University of Illinois Press,. Urbana :. 2002.

Mirror to America :
ISBN: 0374299447. OCLC Number:

Farrar, Straus and Giroux,. New York :. 2005.

John Hope Franklin lived through America's most defining 20th-century transformation, the dismantling of legally-protected racial segregation. A renowned scholar, he has explored that transformation in its myriad aspects, and he was, and remains, an active participant. Born in 1915, he could not but participate: evicted from whites-only train cars, confined to segregated schools, and threatened--once with lynching. And yet he managed to receive a Ph. D. from Harvard. He has become one of the world's most celebrated historians and reshaped the way African American history is understood and taught. But Franklin's participation was much more fundamental than that. From his effort in 1934 to hand President Roosevelt a petition, whether aiding Thurgood Marshall's preparation for Brown v. Board in 1954, marching to Montgomery in 1965, or testifying against Robert Bork's nomination to the Supreme Court in 1987, Franklin has pushed the national conversation on race towards humanity and equality.--From publisher description.

In search of the promised land :
ISBN: 0195160886. OCLC Number:

. .

Sally Thomas went from being a slave on a tobacco plantation, to a "virtually free" slave who ran her own business and purchased one of her sons out of bondage. This book offers a portrait of her extended family and of the life of slaves before the Civil War. Based on family letters as well as an autobiography by one of her sons, the detective work follows a singular group as they walk the boundary between slave and free, traveling across the country in search of a "promised land" where African Americans would be treated with respect. This small family experienced the full gamut of slavery, witnessing everything from the breakup of slave families, brutal punishment, and runaways, to miscegenation, insurrection panics, and slave patrols. They also illuminate the hidden lives of "virtually free" slaves, who maintained close relationships with whites, maneuvered within the system, and gained a large measure of autonomy. --From publisher description.

Collecting African American art :
ISBN: 0300152914. OCLC Number:

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston ;. [Houston] :. ©2009.

"Celebrating an important aspect of cultural history, this book showcases the institutional and private efforts to collect, document, and preserve African American art in Houston during the 20th and 21st centuries"--Provided by publisher.


  • 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.