Happy 60th, American Heritage!

A longtime contributor and former editor introduces the special anniversary issue
READERS, I HAVE THE honor of introducing this birthday banquet of essays on critical moments in our nation's story by some of its ablest current thinkers. I even get to follow on the distinguished heels of President John F. Kennedy; whose resounding words in the preceding article remind us of the vital importance of a citizenry knowing its history. It's worth noting that two of Kennedy's White House predecessors-Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were published historians and presidents of the American Historical Association.
Date of Event: 
Monday, January 22, 1866
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Bruce Catton

Notes about the famous historian and American Heritage editor

For decades, Yale history professor David Blight, an award-winning author and a preeminent scholar of the Civil War, has studied the legacy of Bruce Catton, the historian/writer who significantly shaped our understanding of the Civil War by bringing it into exhilarating, memorable relief through his books and magazine articles. “Few writers have grasped the transformative effect of the war so well,” says Blight, “along with understanding that it is ultimately a great human story.”  Read more »

Editor’s Letter

American Heritage couldn’t be allowed to just fade away.

A friend called me last May with the stunning news that American Heritage had suspended publication.Read more »

Golden Anniversary

Like the nation it covers, American Heritage was revolutionary at its birth. And like that nation’s story, ours is a real cliffhanger.

It is rare for any magazine to live half a century. This one’s unusual longevity has been immeasurably helped by the circumstances of its birth, when a brilliant array of people came together hoping to produce a publication for all those interested in our American story. 1, for one, have a personal stake in this account, as my father, Robert L. Reynolds (1924-1981), was on the American Heritage staff—ending as managing editor—from 1958 through 1970.Read more »

Henry Steele Commager

The great storyteller and famed historian lent authority and good advice to our aspiring magazine

H enry Steele Commager, one of the greatest American historians and a friend to this magazine for many years, died at his home in Amherst, Massachusetts, on March 2, at the great age of ninety-five. If you studied American history in this country at any time between, say, 1930 and 1970, you probably used The Growth of the American Republic , which he wrote with Samuel Eliot Morison of Harvard, as a basic textbook.Read more »

In Memoriam: Allan Nevins

The longtime adviser to American Heritage wrote history not simply as a means of talking with other historians, but in order to talk to the general reader.

They say a tree is best measured when it is down. Allan Nevins is gone, at last, although he seemed imperishable, and we at AMERICAN HERITAGE feel a poignant sense of loss. We measure him now by the length of the shadow he cast, and by the abiding influence he had upon us and upon the magazine we serve. We also think of the friendship which he extended to everyone who knew him, and that is immeasurable. Read more »

What They Did There

Our American heritage is greater than any one of us.

The sun goes down every evening over the muzzle of a gun that has been a museum piece for nearly a century, and where there was a battlefield there is now a park, with green fields rolling west under the sunset haze to the misty blue mountain wall. You can see it all just about as it used to be, and to look at it brings up deep moods and sacred memories that are part of our American heritage.Read more »