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On May 28, 1894, John Clark Ridpath wrote Indiana University Professor James Woodburn and described the effort he had expended to complete his most recent historical volumes. “I have just returned from a long absence in New York,” he wrote, “where I have been detained for eighteen months with the publication of my work on the Great Races of Mankind. More recently, I have been in the Bermudas, whither I went in early April, on account of a little break in my health, following quite illogically the completion of a task to which I have devoted five and a half years of work, besides a good part of the preceding ten years in study and preparation.”1 Although Ridpath exhausted substantial effort to produce massive amounts of scholarship he published over his lifetime, those efforts have been consistently ignored by scholars of historical writing. As a writer Ridpath was a transformational figure in historical scholarship as it moved from primitive, storytelling methods of the past and into the infancy of professionalization. As a popular historian Ridpath produced over one hundred volumes during his career. In light of the quantity of histories Ridpath published and sold, his often overlooked contributions to American historical literature and intellectual discourse needs reconsideration.


Clifton J. Phillips Archives Research Award Winner

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