Graebner, Norman A. (1915-) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Graebner, Norman A. (1915-)

Historical Note:

Norman Arthur Graebner (1915-2010) was visiting professor (1956-57) and professor (1957-67) at the University of Illinois (UI) History Department. He was a revered educator and lecturer as well as a leading historian of American diplomacy.

Graebner was born in Kingman, Kansas, on October 19, 1915. He earned his bachelor's degree from Milwaukee State College (1939) and a master's degree from the University of Oklahoma (1940) before serving in the US Army during World War II. Following the war, he earned his PhD from the University of Chicago (1949). During his career, Graebner was recognized as one of the leading scholars of American diplomacy and its intellectual history as well as a proponent of the realist school of American diplomacy, similar to Hans Morgenthau (1904-80), George Kennan (1904-2005), and Walter Lippmann (1889-1974). He held teaching positions at UI (1956-67) and the University of Virginia (1967-1986). At the UI, his lectures were popular amongst students and one of his classes was broadcast on the radio to over 75,000 listeners. He published more than twenty books during his career as author, co-author, and editor, including Empire on the Pacific: A Study in American Continental Expansion (author, 1955), An Uncertain Tradition: American Secretaries of State in the Twentieth Century (author, 1961), Ideas and Diplomacy: Readings in the Intellectual Tradition of American Foreign Policy (author, 1964) and The Cold War: A Conflict of Ideology and Power (editor, 1976). Graebner was a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and was elected to the Society of American Historians. He retired from the University of Virginia as professor emeritus of history in 1986.

Graebner was married to Laura Baum (d. 1997), Jane Shannon (d. 2002), and Mary Moon. He died on May 10, 2010.


Richard Dean Burns, "In Memoriam: Norman Arthur Graebner (1915-2010),"Perspectives on History, January 1, 2011, accessed May 27, 2020,

Jerald A. Combs, "Norman Graebner and the Realist View of American Diplomatic History," Diplomatic History 11, no. 3 (Summer 1987): 251â??264. Accessed May 27, 2020,

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