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Sydney E. Ahlstrom

Sydney Eckman Ahlstrom (16 December 1919 – July 3, 1984) was an American historian. He was a Yale University professor and a specialist in the religious history of the United States.

Ahlstrom was born in Cokato, Minnesota, the son of Joseph T. and Selma Eckman Ahlstrom, who were Swedish Lutherans. He graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota with a B.A. degree in 1941, and served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He earned a master's degree at the University of Minnesota in 1946 and a Ph.D. at Harvard University in 1952. He was a Fulbright fellow at the University of Strasbourg, France, and an instructor at Harvard before joining Yale in 1954.

In 1973 he received the National Book Award in category Philosophy and Religion for A Religious History of the American People (1972).[1]

He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1978.[2] In 1979 he was awarded The Christian Century Award for the Decade's Most Outstanding Book on Religion.

At the time of his retirement from Yale in 1984 he held the position of Samuel Knight Professor of American History and Modern Religious History.

Bibliography: Writings by Ahlstrom

  • A Religious History of the American People (1972; 2nd ed. 2004) 1216pp excerpt and text search
  • The American frontier and the Protestant missionary response (1960)
  • editor, An American reformation: a documentary history of Unitarian Christianity edited with Jonathan S. Carey (1998)
  • editor, Theology in America: the major Protestant voices from Puritanism to Neo-Orthodoxy (1967)

Representative articles

  • "The Scottish Philosophy and American Theology," Church History, Vol. 24, No. 3 (Sep., 1955), pp. 257–272 in JSTOR
  • "Continental Influence on American Christian Thought since World War I," Church History, Vol. 27, No. 3 (Sept 1958), pp. 256–272 in JSTOR
  • "Theology and the Present-Day Revival," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science Vol. 332, Religion in American Society (Nov., 1960), pp. 20–36 in JSTOR
  • "Thomas Hooker: Puritanism and Democratic Citizenship: A Preliminary Inquiry into Some Relationships of Religion and American Civic Responsibility," Church History, Vol. 32, No. 4 (Dec., 1963), pp. 415–431 in JSTOR
  • "The Radical Turn in Theology and Ethics: Why It Occurred in 1960s," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science Vol. 387, The Sixties: Radical Change in American Religion (Jan., 1970), pp. 1–13 in JSTOR
  • "Religion, Revolution and the Rise of Modern Nationalism: Reflections on the American Experience," Church History, Vol. 44, No. 4 (Dec., 1975), pp. 492–504 in JSTOR
  • "The Religious Dimension of American Aspirations," Review of Politics vol. 38, No. 3, Bicentennial Issue (Jul., 1976), pp. 332–342 in JSTOR
  • "The Romantic Religious Revolution and the Dilemmas of Religious History The Romantic Religious Revolution and the Dilemmas of Religious History," Church History, Vol. 46, No. 2 (Jun., 1977), pp. 149–170 in JSTOR
  • "The Problem of the History of Religion in America," Church History, Vol. 57, Supplement: Centennial Issue (1988), pp. 127–138 in JSTOR


  1. ^ "National Book Awards – 1973". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-08.
  2. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 6 April 2011. 
  • Sydney Eckman Ahlstrom, Scholar of Religious History, obituary in The New York Times, July 4, 1984.
  • Guide to the Sydney Ahlstrom Papers, Yale University Library, Divinity Library Special Collections, March, 1990
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