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Mumford, Lewis (1895-1990), urban historian and cultural critic  

Robert Casillo

Mumford, Lewis (09 October 1895–26 January 1990), urban historian and cultural critic, was born in Flushing, New York, the illegitimate son of Lewis Charles Mack, a Jewish businessman from New Jersey, and Elvina Conradina Baron Mumford, a German Protestant. Mumford never knew his father, learning his identity only in 1942. He grew up in a lower middle-class environment in Manhattan and in 1912 graduated from Stuyvesant High School, where he was chiefly interested in science and technology. New York’s museums and libraries contributed much to his education. Beginning in 1912 Mumford studied at City College, Columbia University, New York University, and the New School for Social Research. He earned enough credits for a degree but never graduated. Between 1914 and 1918 Mumford suffered from what he then regarded as incipient tuberculosis but which he later believed to have been a thyroid problem. He served in the U.S. Navy from 1918 to 1919. Having begun his career as a freelance writer, Mumford joined the staff of ...


Norton, Charles Eliot (1827-1908), scholar and critic  

James Turner

Norton, Charles Eliot (16 November 1827–21 October 1908), scholar and critic, was born at “Shady Hill,” his family’s estate in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His parents were Andrews Norton, biblical scholar and man of letters, and Catharine Eliot, daughter of a wealthy Boston merchant. Charles grew up in an academic household frequented by ...


Riis, Jacob August (1849-1914), journalist and social reformer  

Robert D. Cross

Riis, Jacob August (03 May 1849–26 May 1914), journalist and social reformer, was born in Ribe, Denmark, the son of Niels Edward Riis, a Latin teacher, and Carolina Lundholm. After studying in his father’s school, Riis was apprenticed for four years to a carpenter in Copenhagen. Unable to find steady employment and spurned by Elisabeth Gortz, the young woman who in 1876 would marry him, Riis emigrated in 1870 to the United States. For the rest of his life he regularly compared the sociability and the close relationships of life in Ribe with the impersonality and harsh precariousness of American urban life....


Cover Riis, Jacob August (1849-1914)
Jacob A. Riis Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-113814).