Frederick L. Allen

Frederick L. Allen books and biography


Frederick Lewis Allen

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Frederick Lewis Allen (July 5, 1890 Boston, Massachusetts - February 13, 1954 New York City) was the editor of Harper's Magazine and also notable as an American historian of the first half of the twentieth century. His specialty was writing about what was at the time recent and popular history. His best-known books were Only Yesterday (1931), a book chronicling American life in the 1920s, and Since Yesterday (1940), which covered the 1930s. Among Allen's other works were The Big Change (1952), The Lords of Creation (1966), and The Great Pierpont Morgan (1949).

He graduated from Harvard College in 1912 and received his Masters in 1913. He taught at Harvard briefly thereafter before becoming assistant editor of the Atlantic Monthly in 1914, and then managing editor of The Century in 1916. He began working for Harper's in 1923, becoming editor-in-chief in 1941, a position he held until shortly before his death. His wife, Dorothy Penrose Allen, died just prior to the publication of Only Yesterday.

Allen's popularity coincided with increased interest in history among the book-buying public of the 1920s and 1930s. This interest was met, not by the university-employed historian, but by an amateur historian writing in his free time. Aside from Allen, these historians included Carl Sandburg, Bernard DeVoto, Douglas Southall Freeman, Henry F. Pringle, and Allan Nevins (before his Columbia appointment).


Allen, Frederick Lewis (1931). Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the 1920s. New York: Harper and Row. 


  1.   Higham, John (1986). History : Professional Scholarship in America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 76-77. 

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