Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture

Leading Early American Scholarship Since 1943


In Memoriam: Alfred F. Young

I was a junior in college when I first read Alfred F. Young’s award-winning 1981 article in the William and Mary Quarterly on the Boston shoemaker George Robert Twelves Hewes. The piece is an amazing reconstruction of a life, and a fascinating meditation on the use of sources. One line in particular caught my attention: “He [Hewes] does not seem to have belonged to any associations. [Ebenezer] McIntosh was in a fire company. So was Hewes’s brother Shubael. Hewes was not” (584). This led me to ask, “what did it mean to be a firefighter during the Revolutionary era?” I first attempted to answer this question in a bad seminar paper, then in a better senior thesis. I reworked my findings in graduate school, and on the advice of my mentors (including the late Stephen Innes), I submitted it to the William and Mary Quarterly. Al Young identified himself as one of the three referees, and his advice helped me improve the manuscript that became my first published article. Several years later, the Quarterly punctuated our relationship a third time—his review of my book Rebels Rising: Cities and the American Revolution for the Quarterly was the first scholarly review to appear. These interactions eventually touched off several years of dialogue on Revolutionary Boston and its public history. I only met Al in person one or two times, but I still cherished our correspondence, and I was grateful to Al for his generosity and support.

Benjamin L. Carp, Tufts University