Burton J. Bledstein

Professor of History Emeritus

Email: bjb@uic.edu

Professor Bledstein taught Cultural, Intellectual, and Social History of the U.S. at UIC until 2011.  Among major awards, he has received four National Endowment of the Humanities Fellowships.  A Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy at U.C.L.A., and graduate of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, Professor Bledstein earned his Ph.D. in History at Princeton University.

His first book was The Culture of Professionalism: The Middle Class and the Development of Higher Education in America (W.W. Norton, 1976). In 2001, he published "Storytellers to the Middle Class" in a collection, Bledstein and Johnston ed., The Middling Sorts: Explorations in the History of the American Middle Class (Routledge 2001). He was Project Director of a university supported website, "In the Vicinity of the Maxwell Street Market" and is currently finishing a book, "Visual Thinking in Urban America: Jane Addams Encounters Lewis Hine's Hull-House Photography."

Other current projects based on comprehensive bodies of research include a book about Mark Twain and his generation of youth, "Poor, Pitiful Business: Growing Up Male in Mid-Nineteenth Century America"; a book about the young men and women who went to the California Gold Rush, "Prospecting in American Futures: 'Seeing the Elephant' in California Gold"; and a book on the emergence and significance of reading and writing among ordinary people in the nineteenth century, "B(u)y the Book: Smart Knowledge for Common Folk."


Selected publications


  • The Culture of Professionalism: The Middle Class and the Development of Higher Education in America (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., l976)


  • "Intellectuals and the Disciplines," Knowledge, Power, History: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Michael Foucault, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, October, l98l.
  • "The Professional Project," Society for the Study of Social Problems, American Sociological Association, San Francisco, California, September, l982.
  • "The Symbols of Professionalism," The Society for Critical Exchange, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, May, l983.
  • "Deciding What to Know: the Professional Authorization of Knowledge in the Humanities," The Society for Critical Exchange, Indiana University, Bloomington, October, l983.
  • "Critical Institutions: Literary Study in the University," Society for Critical Exchange, University of Washington, Seattle, May, l984.
  • "Politics, Culture, and Religion in the Progressive Era," Mid-American Studies Association, University of Illinois, Urbana, May, l985.
  • "On the Intellectual Marginality of American Theology," Conversations: a Theological Project in Hermeneutics and Cultural Concerns, Princeton Theological Seminary, May, l987
  • "Libraries and Scholarly Communication in the United States: The Historical Dimension," Center for the Book: Library of Congress, Washington D.C., October, l987.
  • "The History of the Book, vol III, Planning Conference," American Antiquarian Society, February 1994
  • "The Future of the Professions," Midwestern Faculty Seminar, March 1993
  • "The History of the Book, vol III, Planning Conference," American Antiquarian Society, February 1994
  • "Where in the World: Geography Education in the U.S.," American Historical Association, Chicago, January 1995
  • "Precarious Markets: Entrepreneurs & Identity in Antebellum America," American Studies Association, Kansas City, October 1996
  • "Gendered Profession," Organization of American Historians, Indianapolis, April 1998

Fellowships and Major Grants:

  • Social Science Research Council Fellow, l964-1965
  • N.E.H. University Teacher Fellow, l972-1973
  • N.E.H. Fellow, University of Chicago, Interdisciplinary Program on Technology and the Humanities, l977-1978
  • N.E.H. Grant, Director, Faculty Seminar in Anthropology and History, l979-1980
  • University of Illinois, Chicago, Institute for the Humanities Fellow, l982-1983
  • American Council Learned Societies, Grant for Research, l987
  • American Antiquarian Society Peterson Fellow for Research, Fall 1988
  • N.E.H. University Teacher Fellow, l988-1989
  • Mark Twain Papers, Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley, Visting Scholar, Spring, 1997
  • Stephen Botein Fellowship in the History of the Book, Summer 1997
  • Campus Research Board, University of Illinois Chicago, 1998
  • Fellow at Great Cities Institute, University of Illinois Chicago, 1999-2000

Editorial and Director Positions:

  • 1991-93: Moderator, H-Ideas (Intellectual History: H-Net Discussion List)
  • 1997-98: Director, In the Neighborhood of Hull House and the Maxwell Street
  • Market: Chicago's Near West Side, 1870-1930, Research Project, University of Illinois, Chicago.

Articles and Essays:

  • "Frederick Jackson Turner: a Note on the Intellectual and the Professional," Wisconsin Magazine of History 54 (Autumn, l970), 50-55.
  • "Noah Porter versus William Graham Sumner," Church History LXIII (September, l974), 340-49.
  • "Reassessing General Education," Dyckman W. Vermily (ed.), Relating Work and Education (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, l977), pp. l4l-47.
  • "American Academics," New Republic vol. 180, April 28, l979, 34-37.
  • "Community and Social Change in America," Social Service Review, 53 (March, l979), l42- 46.
  • "American Studies: a Life and Times," Michigan Quarterly Review, XIX (Summer, l980), 410-20.
  • "The New Spencerians: the Way We Think," Reviews in American History, IX (June, l98l), 218-23.
  • "Religion and Sexuality," Christian Century, March 17, l982, 311-12.
  • "Discussing Terms: Professions, Professionals, Professionalism," Prospects 12 (l986), 1-15.
  • "Humanistic Pieties, Historical Counterpieties," Reviews in American History 15 (September, l987), 412-20.
  • "Professionalization," "American Historical Association," "Frederick Jackson Turner," "John Franklin Jameson," "William E. Dodd," articles in The Historical Dictionary of the Progressive Era, 1890-1920, ed. John D. Buenker, Edward R. Kantowicz (New York: Greenwood Press, l988), pp. 381-2, 16, 480, 226-7, 117-8.
  • "Edward Bellamy: Storyteller to the Middle Class," Annals of History, VI (Winter, 1989), 91-117
  • "Terminology Counts, Termanly Stupid," Reviews in American History, 22 (March, 1994), 113-119.
  • "Career and Career Change" in Robert Stebbins, M. Michael Rosenberg, Allan Turowetz, Professionals: Key Issues (forthcoming, University of Toronto Press).
  • "The Icon in the Museum: the Enola Gay and the Credibility of a Profession," (in press, University of Tennessee Press)
  • "Wired Historians and Charged Bibliographers, Search and Recovery: Book List, Card Catalogue, Data Base," published in Crossroads: American Studies Web, Georgetown University, 1995
  • "By the Book": Reference and Information as Authority in 19th-Century America, in vol. 3, The History of the Book in America, eds. Michael Winship and Stephen Nissenbaum (manuscript submitted)

Selected Reviews:

  • Raymond Seidelman, DISENCHANTED REALISTS; POLITICAL SCIENCE AND THE AMERICAN CRISIS, Journal of American History 72 (March, l986), 968-9.
  • Arthur Powell, THE UNCERTAIN PROFESSION, American Historical Review 86 (April, l98l), 473-474.
  • Bruce Sinclair, A CENTENNIAL HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MECHANICAL ENGINEERS, 1880-1980, Journal of American History 68 (December, l98l), 689-90.
  • Thomas Haskell (ed.), THE AUTHORITY OF EXPERTS, Journal of Social History 20 (Fall, l986), 187-9.
  • David O. Levine, THE AMERICAN COLLEGE AND THE CULTURE OF ASPIRATION, l915-l940, History of Education Quarterly 27 (Summer, l987), 275-8.
  • Nathan O. Hatch, THE PROFESSIONS IN AMERICAN HISTORY Journal of American History (Fall, 1989).
  • J. Rodney Millard, THE MASTER SPIRIT OF THE AGE: CANADIAN ENGINEERS AND THE POLITICS OF PROFESSIONALISM American Historical Review (December, 1990), 1658.
  • Thomas Bender (ed.), THE UNIVERSITY AND THE CITY: FROM MEDIEVAL ORIGINS TO THE PRESENT, History of Education Quarterly 30 (Summer 1990), 281-283.
  • Paul Axelrod, MAKING A MIDDLE CLASS: STUDENT LIFE IN ENGLISH CANADA DURING THE THIRTIES, American Historical Review 97 (June, 1992), 964-965.
  • Samuel Haber, THE QUEST FOR AUTHORITY AND HONOR IN THE AMERICAN PROFESSIONS, American Historical Review, 98 (April, 1993) 555.
  • W. Bruce Leslie, GENTLEMEN AND SCHOLARS: COLLEGE & COMMUNITY IN THE AGE OF THE UNIVERSITY, American Historical Review, 99 (December, 1994), 1762-1773.
  • Bruce Kimball, THE "TRUE PROFESSIONAL IDEAL" IN AMERICA, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 25 (Spring, 1995), 747-750.
  • William P. LaPiana, LOGIC & EXPERIENCE: THE ORIGIN OF MODERN AMERICAN LEGAL EDUCATION, History of Education Quarterly, 35 (Summer, 1995), 193-4.
  • James Thorpe, HENRY EDWARDS HUNTINGTON: A BIOGRAPHY, American Historical Review, 101 (April, 1996), 578-9.
  • Ronald Dore, THE DIPLOMA DISEASE, Social Science Quarterly 58 (September, l977), 342-34.
  • Frederick Rudolph, CURRICULUM, American Historical Review 84 (April, l979), 535.
  • Donald Scott, FROM OFFICE TO PROFESSION, Christian Century XCV (December l3, l978), 1218.
  • David DeLeon, THE AMERICAN AS ANARCHIST, Journal of American History 66 (March, l980), 897-98.
  • Viviana Zelizer, MORALS AND MARKETS, Christian Century XCVII (March 26, l980), 354-55.
  • Frank K. Kelly, COURT OF REASON; ROBERT HUTCHINS AND THE FUND FOR THE REPUBLIC, Journal of American History 70 (December, l983), 730-1.
  • Anne C. Rose, TRANSCENDENTALISM AS A SOCIAL MOVEMENT, 1830-1850, Journal of Social History 17 (Spring, l984), 527-29.

Conference Papers:

  • "The Intellectual, the Professional, and the Problem of Democracy in America," American Historical Association, New York City, December, l968.
  • "Power, Ceremony, and the Uses of Knowledge in the 19th Century Legal Profession," American Society for Legal History, Boston, Mass., November, l977.
  • "The Professional as 'Fixer,'" Guest lecture at the Divinity School, University of Chicago, November, l977.
  • "What is Alive and What is Dead in General Education," American Association for Higher Education, Chicago, Ill., March, l977.
  • "Social History and American Studies," Colloquium in American Studies, Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill. November, l978.
  • "Woman against Man," American Psychiatric Association, Chicago, Ill. May, l979.
  • "Professionalism in the American University: a History," Institute for Research in History, New York City, October, 1979.
  • "The Humanistic Dimension of Technology in America," Conference: National Endowment for the Humanities, University of Chicago, May, l979.
  • "Instinct, Emotions and the New Profession of Economics," History of Economics Association, Michigan State University, East Lansing, June, l98l.
  • "The Prepared Professional," International Design Conference, Institute for the Humanities, Aspen, Colorado, June, l982.
  • "Collectivity and Creativity: an Essay in Middle-Class Culture," Humanities Institute, University Illinois Chicago, March, l983.
  • "The Liberal Arts College and American Civilization," Kalamazoo College, Sesquicentennial lecture, Kalamazoo, Michigan, April, l983.
  • "Discussing Terms: Professionals, Professionalism, Professionalization," Organization of American Historians, Los Angeles, California, April, l984.
  • "Professionalism in American Education," Harrisburg College, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, April, l984.
  • "The Professionalization of Social Work," Social Services Administration, University of Chicago, May, l985
  • "The 'American' Jeremiad: Uses and Abuses of Ideology," Midwest Faculty Seminar, February, l988
  • "Storyteller to the Middle Class, Edward Bellamy and Looking Backward After One Hundred Years," Edward Bellamy Association, Chicopee, Mass, May, l988
  • "A Language Event: The Middle Classes in American History, 1828-1919," American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, MA, November, l988
  • "The Library Profession: Who Speaks for the Unserved," American Library Association, Atlanta, GA, August 1991
  • "Time for Celebration? Time for Sadness? Seeking Common Ground on the Quincentenary," American Political Science Association, Chicago, IL, September 1992
  • "Frederick Jackson Turner: Centennial Perspective, Time and Space," The City in History Conference, Chicago, IL, November, 1993
  • "Historical Memory, Working Knowledge, and the A-Bomb," The Atomic Age Opens: American Culture Confronts the Atomic Bomb, Bowling Green State University, Ohio, July 1995
  • "'Wired' Historians, 'Charged' Bibliographers, Search and Recovery: Book List, Card Catalogue, Data Base," Bibliography on the Internet: Challenges and Potential, American Historical Association, Atlanta, January 1996.
  • "Sorting out the Middling Sorts," Organization of American Historians, San Francisco, April 1996
  • "Lawyers, Doctors, Accountants, and Academics: Acturial Relationship with the Academy in Historical Perspective," Society of Actuaries, Rosemont, IL, February, 1988
  • "Revisiting the Chicago School of Sociology," Social Science History Association, Chicago, IL, November 1998
  • "Social Darwinism," Glessner House Museum, Chicago, IL. January 1999
  • "Elusive Slum, Evasive Immigrants: Revisting the Chicago School of Urban Sociology on Chicago?s Near West Side, 1910-1930," American Sociology Association, Chicago, IL, August 1999