Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. is a publishing house located in New York. The company was founded by Alfred A. Knopf, Sr. in 1915, was acquired by Random House in 1960, and is now part of the Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
Alfred A. Knopf published John Hope Franklin’s seminal work, From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans in 1947. In 1945, John Hope Franklin wrote to Knopf to see if the publisher would be interested in his project on the Martial South. On December 13, 1945, Robert Shugg, editor of the College Department replied that Knopf’s interest in the project would require an outline to see if the project was appealing to them. But in the second part of his letter, Shugg asked if Franklin would be interested in writing a history of the Negro. Franklin’s initial response was lukewarm, as his interests were primarily in the history of the American South. But correspondence between the two continued over a number of months until Franklin agreed to Knopf’s proposal.
In six months, Franklin wrote the first five chapters of his work under the title “The American Negro: A History.” Robert Shugg noted, “It promises to be a book of genuine distinction, not only as a useful text but as an interesting and authoritative reference work for a good many years to come.” Even with modest sales of the first edition, Knopf contracted an updated second edition for printing in 1954. The burgeoning civil rights movement spawned a global interest in the history of African Americans, and From Slavery to Freedom served as a guide to understanding the changes taking place in America. Knopf continued publication of the work through it’s 8th edition.
This series is a part of Duke University’s John Hope Franklin@100: Scholar, Activist, Citizen year-long celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. John Hope Franklin
Submitted by Gloria Ayee, Franklin Research Center Intern