Hansen, Marcus Lee (1892-1938) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Hansen, Marcus Lee (1892-1938)

Historical Note:

Marcus ("Mark") Lee Hansen (1892-1938) was associate professor (1928-30) and professor of history (1930-38) at the University of Illinois (UI). He was an influential, early historian of European immigration to America most widely remembered for his posthumously published book, The Atlantic Migration, 1607-1860, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1941.

Hansen was born in Neenah, Wisconsin, on December 8, 1892, to Norwegian immigrant Gina O. Lee Hansen (1854-1920) and Danish immigrant Marcus Hansen (1851-1917). His childhood as the son of European immigrants would inform his later scholarship on American immigration. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Iowa before studying under historian Frederick Jackson Turner (1861-1932) at Harvard University, where he earned his PhD in 1924. Hansen spent three years in Europe gathering primary source materials for his planned three-volume history of American immigration. When he returned to the US, he served as research associate at the American Council of Learned Societies (1927-28). He accepted a professorship at the UI in 1928, and, over the course of his ten-year career as historian at the UI, Hansen was instrumental in establishing the historiography of American immigration. He served as a member of the Board of Editors of the Norwegian-American Historical Association and published works such as "The Problem of the Third Generation Immigrant" (1938). Some of his most significant works were edited by historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr., and published following his premature death, including a collection of essays, The Immigrant in American History (1940) and The Mingling of the Canadian and American Peoples (1940). The most significant of these posthumous works, however, was his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Atlantic Migration, 1607-1860: A History of the Continuing Settlement of the United States (1940), which was the first volume of his incomplete trilogy on the cultural and economic factors that drove European emigrant groups to the United States over the course of US history.

Hansen died at the age of 45 on May 11, 1938, as a result of a long illness with chronic nephritis.


"Prof. Marcus Hansen, Educator in Illinois, Member of History Faculty at State University Was 45," May 12, 1938, accessed May 27, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/1938/05/12/archives/prof-marcus-hansen-educator-in-illinois-member-of-history-faculty.html.

Allan H. Spear, "Marcus Lee Hansen and the Historiography of Immigration," The Wisconsin Magazine of History 44, no. 4 (summer 1961): 258â??268. Accessed May 27, 2020, https://www.jstor.org/stable/4633655?seq=1.

Wikipedia, s.v. "The Atlantic Migration, 1607â??1860," accessed May 27, 2020, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Atlantic_Migration,_1607%E2%80%931860.

Wikipedia, s.v. "Marcus Lee Hansen," accessed May 27, 2020, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Lee_Hansen.

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