Lee Benson, author of The Concept of Jacksonian Democracy: New York as a Test Case (1961), has died.

While Jacksonian historians recognize Benson’s work as pioneering the use of social science research and quantitative methods to argue for an ethnocultural interpretation of the Jacksonian period, the UPenn professor was also deeply involved in civic engagement:

He was co-founder of the Netter Center’s university-assisted community school program that has, since its inception in 1985, been seen as a national model of university civic engagement. Dr. Benson continued to be fully engaged with the Netter Center, serving on its Faculty Advisory Board, writing and co-teaching with the Center’s director an undergraduate seminar on “Urban University-Community Relations” until his death. He was co-executive editor of the Netter Center’s Universities and Community Schools journal, co-author of Dewey’s Dream (2007), and was the author or co-author of dozens of articles and chapters on university civic engagement and the role of higher education in educating students for democratic citizenship.

(H/t Jon Atkins)

2 thoughts on “R.I.P. Lee Benson, Author of The Concept of Jacksonian Democracy

  1. I’m not surprised to see this here as Benson was certainly most famous within the profession for that Jackson book. However, you should know that he wrote upon just about everything under the sun.

    Lee led my senior seminar at Penn just a couple of years before he retired. It’s title was “American Politics, 1788-1988” but it was really the world according to Lee Benson. Everybody picked their own topic, but nevertheless each of us got called into a meeting at some point during the semester during which he pulled out something he had written on our topic. I did political polling and I got an article from _Commentary_, I think, written in the early-1970s. Even the kid with the thing for Ayn Rand got an article that Benson had written about her. Seriously, his range of knowledge was absolutely amazing.

    1. Interesting connection.

      I assumed that Benson had taken the career path of another Jacksonian historian, James Curtis, and moved into administration. I was pleasantly surprised to see how broad his interests were.

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