Schmitt, Bernadotte Everly, 1886-1969

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Professor of Modern European History, University of Chicago, 1924-1946.

From the description of Papers, 1913-1961. (University of Chicago Library). WorldCat record id: 52248399

Epithet: Professor historian

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000498.0x0003df

Educator, historian, and author.

From the description of Papers of Bernadotte Everly Schmitt, 1868-1970 (bulk 1905-1969). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 79147077

Biographical Note

  • 1886, May 19: Born, Strasburg, Va.
  • 1904: A.B., University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn.
  • 1905: Appointed Rhodes Scholar from Tennessee
  • 1908: B.A., Merton College, University of Oxford, Oxford, England
  • 1910: Ph. D., University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis.
  • 1910 - 1925 : Instructor, assistant professor, associate professor, and professor of history at Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio
  • 1913: M.A., Merton College, University of Oxford, Oxford, England
  • 1925 - 1946 : Professor (1925-1939) and Andrew MacLeish distinguished service professor (1939-1946) of modern history
  • 1929 - 1946 : Editor, Journal of Modern History
  • 1930: Published The Coming of the War, 1914. New York: Scribner’s Sons. 2 vols. Awarded George Louis Beer Prize
  • 1931: Awarded Pulitzer Prize for History
  • 1936 - 1947 : Co-editor, Cambridge Modern History (New Series)
  • 1939: Married Damaris K. Ames
  • 1943: Special consultant to secretary of war
  • 1943 - 1945 : With Office of Strategic Services
  • 1945: Special adviser to the secretary general, United Nations Conference on International Organization
  • 1945 - 1949 : Special adviser, Division of Historical Policy Research, Department of State
  • 1949 - 1952 : Chief, German War Documents Project, Department of State
  • 1960: President, American Historical Association
  • 1969, Mar. 22: Died, Alexandria, Va.

From the guide to the Bernadotte Everly Schmitt Papers, 1868-1970, (bulk 1905-1969), (Manuscript Division Library of Congress)

Bernadotte Everly Schmitt (1886-1969) was a professor of Modern European History at the University of Chicago from 1924 until 1946. From 1939 until his retirement, he was the Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Service Professor of History. Schmitt's historical work centered on diplomatic history, particularly the origins of World War I.

Born in Strasburg, Virginia, Schmitt came from an academic family. At an early age he entered the University of Tennessee, where his father taught, and he graduated at the age of eighteen. From there he won a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford, where he spent the next three years (1905-1908) at Merton College. It was during this interval that Schmitt developed an interest in Anglo-German relations. He traveled to Germany in the summer of 1906 and reacted strongly against the evidences of a militaristic state, which he saw there. These observations influenced much of his work on the origins and consequences of the First World War.

After receiving an A.B. from Merton, Schmitt returned to the United States and immediately began a Ph.D. program at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. He graduated in 1910, having written a dissertation on "British Policy and the Enforcement of the Treaty of Berlin, 1878-1887." His first academic appointment was at Western Reserve University in Ohio where he taught modern European history until 1925, rising from lecturer to full professor over the fifteen-year period. He took time out in 1918 to serve in the armed forces, and in 1924 he taught on a temporary appointment at the University of Chicago, in addition to his normal teaching duties.

Before leaving Western Reserve Schmitt published his first major work, England and Germany 1740-1914, which came out in 1916. Like much of his work it concentrated on events, which had just recently occurred, and for which very little previous scholarship existed. Schmitt focused on the decade before 1914, and in this work first set out his thesis that Germany was that country more than any other which pushed the world toward conflict in 1914.

For much of his subsequent career, Schmitt developed and expanded this hypothesis. In 1930 he published The Coming of the War, 1914, a book about the month of July 1914, and the events leading up to the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand and his wife at Sarajevo. The work represented a marked disagreement with major historians in the field. In 1926 Harry Elmer Barnes, then of Smith College, published a book entitled The Genesis of the World War, in which he stated that Germany could not be blamed for the outbreak of war. Two years later Professor Sidney Fay, also then of Smith College, put out a book entitled The Origins of the World War in which he argued that the quilt had to be shared by many participant nations. Schmitt's book took arms against the interpretations of these two eminent authorities. In the wake of the controversy a small book called Germany Not Guilty in 1914 (Examining a Much Prized Book) appeared in 1931. It was written by historian Michael H. Cochran and included a foreword by Harry Elmer Barnes. The volume was a rebuttal of Schmitt's argument. The phrase "Much Prized" was intended as a pun since Schmitt had won the Pulitzer Prize in 1931, and the George Louis Beer Prize of the American Historical Association.

The Coming of the War, 1914 established Bernadotte Schmitt's reputation in modern European history, and it was followed over the next nine years by three additional important works in the field: Triple Alliance and Triple Entente came out in 1934, followed by The Annexation of Bosnia in 1937, and From Versailles to Munich 1918-1938 which appeared in 1939.

In the same year he married Damaris Ames.

The outbreak of the Second World War put Bernadotte Schmitt at the heart of another controversy. Robert Maynard Hutchins, president of the University of Chicago, gave a speech on March 30, 1941 calling for the United States to stay out of the European conflict. Schmitt and four of his faculty colleagues strongly opposed this stance and publicly rebutted Hutchins' remarks.

During the war years Schmitt's expertise in European diplomacy was recognized by the United States Government. From 1943 to 1945 he worked in the Office of Strategic Services, and in the years immediately following the War he served as a history consultant to the State Department. Schmitt was also an advisor to the Secretary General at the 1945 United Nations Conference in San Francisco. Finally, in 1946, Schmitt retired from teaching at the University of Chicago as well as from his position as editor of the Journal of Modern History, a post he had held since its founding in 1929.

Additional honors and appointments came to Schmitt during retirement years. In 1949 he was named editor-in-chief of a project called Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918 to 1945. In 1960 he was elected President of the American Historical Association. And in 1967 he received an honorary doctorate from Oxford University. Schmitt died on March 22, 1969, at the age of 82.

From the guide to the Schmitt, Bernadotte E. Papers, 1913-1961, (Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Wallace Notestein papers, 1899-1969 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Armstrong, Hamilton Fish, 1893-1973. Hamilton Fish Armstrong papers, 1893-1973 (bulk 1916-1973). Princeton University Library
creatorOf Schmitt, Bernadotte Everly, 1886-1969. Papers, 1913-1961. University of Chicago Library
referencedIn Gannett, Lewis, 1891-1966. Papers, 1681-1966 (bulk 1900-1960) Houghton Library
referencedIn Jesse Siddall Reeves Papers, 1853-1942, 1901-1942 Bentley Historical Library
creatorOf Schmitt, Bernadotte Everly, 1886-1969. Correspondence to Van Wyck Brooks, 1940. University of Pennsylvania Library
creatorOf Schmitt, Bernadotte E. Papers, 1913-1961 Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library,
referencedIn Wallace Notestein papers, 1899-1969 (inclusive) Yale University Library
creatorOf Schmitt, Bernadotte Everly, 1886-1969. Letter, 1945, to Lewis Mumford. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Davies, Godfrey, 1892-1957. Papers of Godfrey Davies, 1913-1960. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
creatorOf Bernadotte Everly Schmitt Papers, 1868-1970, (bulk 1905-1969) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Bernadotte Everly Schmitt Papers, 1868-1970, (bulk 1905-1969) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Hamilton Fish Armstrong Papers, 1893-1973, 1916-1973 Princeton University. Library. Dept. of Rare Books and Special Collections.Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library. Public Policy Papers.
creatorOf Vol. xxviii. (ff. 235). Oct. 1928-Sept. 1930.includes:f. 1 Harry W. Holmes, of the World Alliance for International Friendship through the Churches: Letter of H. W. Steed to Harry W. Holmes: 1928: Copy.f. 2 James Louis Garvin, Editor, 'The Observ... British Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Acheson, Dean, 1893-1971. person
associatedWith American Historical Association. corporateBody
correspondedWith Armstrong, Hamilton Fish, 1893-1973. person
associatedWith Baker, Newton Diehl, 1871-1937. person
associatedWith Barnes, Harry Elmer, 1889-1968. person
associatedWith Coolidge, Archibald Cary, 1866-1928. person
correspondedWith Davies, Godfrey, 1892-1957. person
associatedWith Dodd, William Edward, 1869-1940. person
associatedWith Fay, Sidney Bradshaw, 1876-1967. person
associatedWith Ford, Guy Stanton, 1873-1962. person
correspondedWith Gannett, Lewis, 1891-1966 person
associatedWith Gottschalk, Louis Reichenthal, 1899-1975. person
associatedWith Hayes, Carlton J. H. (Carlton Joseph Huntley), 1882-1964. person
associatedWith Hornbeck, Stanley Kuhl, 1883-1966. person
associatedWith Hutchins, Robert Maynard, 1899-1977. person
associatedWith Jameson, J. Franklin (John Franklin), 1859-1937. person
associatedWith Langer, William L. (William Leonard), 1896-1977. person
associatedWith Lupis-Vukic, Ivan F., 1876- person
correspondedWith Lupis-Vukić, Ivo, 1876-1967 person
associatedWith Nevins, Allan, 1890-1971. person
associatedWith Notestein, Wallace, 1878-1969. person
associatedWith Reeves, Jesse Siddall, 1872- person
associatedWith Renouvin, Pierre, 1893-1974. person
associatedWith Rippy, J. Fred (James Fred), 1892- person
associatedWith Shafer, Boyd Carlisle, 1907- person
associatedWith Shotwell, James Thomson, 1874-1965. person
associatedWith Stevenson, Adlai E. (Adlai Ewing), 1900-1965. person
associatedWith United States. Dept. of State. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Chicago. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Chicago-History corporateBody
associatedWith University of Oxford. corporateBody
associatedWith Woodward, E. L. (Ernest Llewellyn), Sir, 1890- person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Great Britain
Universities and colleges
Universities and colleges
History, Modern
World War, 1914-1918
World War, 1939-1945


Birth 1886-05-19

Death 1969-03-23



Ark ID: w6bz6mr5

SNAC ID: 7946450