Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture

Leading Early American Scholarship Since 1943

In Memoriam: Alfred F. Young

I met Al Young in the doorway of the Clements Library in Ann Arbor on the morning before the first Annual Meeting of the Omohundro Institute held in that town in 1995. When I somewhat bashfully introduced myself to “Professor Young” he quite literally barked the instruction to “call me AL!!” He invited me to give two papers on different projects to his seminar at the Newberry Library within an almost unseemly short interval of time, which was at least one more than they or probably I merited in that context. He put me up one night in his house in Oak Park on one of those occasions and we stayed up late talking about his project that became Masquerade. Or he stayed up, while I struggled with far less energy or stamina than he was displaying to stay in the conversation. I think that one of his contributions to the literature that may be less remembered was his vigorous rebuttal in about 1978, in the AHA “Newsletter,” the predecessor to Perspectives, to the emerging argument that would have blamed the “job crisis” on the purportedly reckless proliferation of Ph.D. programs in less “elite” institutions than the ones whose members were generating that critique. The high quality of the doctoral program that he was even then building and continued to build at Northern Illinois was its own irrefutable illustration of the eloquent points he made on that occasion.

Wayne Bodle, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Source: H-OIEAHC