In this post, Fall’16 HAPA recipient, Ben Serby talks about the culmination of his labor over the past few months: a website dedicated to former Columbia Professor of American History, Richard Hofstadter.
Last week, the Columbia University Libraries held a panel discussion in celebration of the centenary of the birth of the historian Richard Hofstadter, who is among Columbia’s most influential and esteemed faculty members, past and present. I was fortunate to have the opportunity, at the start of this event, to present the online exhibition that I have been putting together for the last few months, entitled “Richard Hofstadter at 100.” This exhibition, which is now on view, features documents and media files relating to Hofstadter’s life and work, including the full text of several essays. Most of these materials come from the collections of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Columbia, and many have never before been published. Interpretive text accompanies each item on the website, providing biographical and historical context and a coherent, chronological narrative that weaves together these materials. I intend “Richard Hofstadter at 100” to serve as a resource for educators, researchers, and the general public, and I hope that it will stimulate interest among individuals both familiar and unfamiliar with the work of one of the twentieth century’s greatest historians and social critics — especially because its completion coincides not only with the 100th anniversary of Hofstadter’s birth, but, more importantly, it also comes at a moment when many of his writings about the political culture, ideologies, and institutions of this country are as relevant as ever.