Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture

Leading Early American Scholarship Since 1943


In Memoriam: Alfred F. Young

I only learned of Al’s passing yesterday when looking in the New York Review of Books. Knopf had put in a memorial announcement. I looked at the Internet and sadly learned that he had died on November 6. The day before this discovery I had written an e-mail wishing him a long life and saying that the seminars he ran seemed so long ago. I was in several of his classes, and he was my dissertation advisor. I remember him as a teacher who would encourage and push one to do more reading. He was a teacher with an interdisciplinary approach. He read a fantastic amount!! After my dissertation was approved, I attempted to write a journal article on my dissertation topic. He was generous in providing me with articles he recommended. Encourage, encourage, encourage. Push, push, push. It made all who took his seminars better scholars and thinkers. In 1985 my wife and I adopted our son from Korea. I wrote Al about our adventures and hopes and dreams for Tim. He sent Tim a teddy bear. What a good soul! He worked and worked on well into his retirement. I was amazed at his energy. He was always enthusiastic about history of ordinary people and about getting other people excited about the topic. I think that he must have inspired hundreds of people and that legacy will live on. I can still hear him asking if I had read so and so’s article and what primary sources had I consulted and giving me encouragement by assuring me, “No one has seen what you have. What a great article you will write!” I shall miss him.

Mark H. Jones, Connecticut State Library