Colloquium Pays Tribute to Alan Heimert, Leading American Historian, Educator, and Author

NEW YORK, October 13, 2004 The Libraries at Columbia University will honor Alan Heimert (1928–1999), a leading historian, educator, and author, who earned his M.A. in History at Columbia, and taught at Harvard University, influencing and inspiring generations of students. The inaugural event of the Heimert colloquium, featuring a speech by scholar Arnold Rampersad, will be held on Thursday, October 14, at 4:00 P.M. in room 523, Butler Library.

A professor of American Literature and English, Heimert taught at Harvard University for thirty years, where he also served as chairman of the Department of English and American Literature and Language. Heimert’s most influential work was Religion and the American Mind: From the Great Awakening to the Revolution (1966). “In that work,” according to Contemporary Authors, “he maintained that religious belief was a major driving force behind the American Revolution, a position controversial at the time of publication.”

Heimert’s private library was donated to Columbia University Libraries by his widow, Arline Grimes Heimert. Several hundred volumes are now shelved in the American History and Literature Reading Room (502 Butler), and scores more have enriched the collection at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library. A plaque on the wall of the reading room acknowledges this gift, as well as his contributions to the field.

Among Heimert’s students now teaching at Columbia are Barnard professors James Basker (President of the Gilder Lehrman Institute) and Margaret Ellsberg, as well as Parr Professor of English and Comparative Literature Ann Douglas, and Professors Andrew Delbanco and Robert Ferguson.

Alan Brinkley, Provost and Allan Nevins Professor of History at Columbia, will welcome attendees to the inaugural event, at which Arnold Rampersad, Dean of Humanities and Sara Hart Kimball Professor in Humanities at Stanford University, will speak on “Ralph Waldo Ellison, New England, and Black American Culture.”

The 2004 Heimert Colloquium is co-sponsored by the program in American Studies, the Institute for Research in African-American Studies, the Department of English, and the Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History. For additional information about this event, please call 212-854-4768 or e-mail

Columbia University Libraries is one of the top ten academic library systems in the nation, with 9.2 million volumes, over 65,650 serials, as well as extensive collections of electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, and other nonprint formats. The collections and services are organized into 25 libraries, supporting specific academic or professional disciplines. Columbia Libraries employs more than 400 professional and support staff to assist faculty, students, and researchers in their academic endeavors. The Libraries’ website at is a gateway to its print and electronic collections and to its services.

10/13/04 JD