Harrisse, Henry

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HARRISSE, HENRY (1829–1910), U.S. historiographer. Born in Paris, Harrisse immigrated to the United States in 1849. After teaching in South Carolina, he became professor of French at the University of North Carolina and simultaneously prepared for the bar at its Law School. In 1857, he settled in Chicago and four years later in New York, dividing his time between the practice of law and writing on philosophy, French literature, and historiography. In New York, he met Samuel Barlow, the eminent attorney and Americana bibliophile, who stimulated his interest in the period of discovery. Together they published Notes on Columbus (1866). Harrisse's Bibliotheca Americana Vetustissima, which evaluated every book referring to America from 1493 to 1551 (1866; repr. 1922, 1958), established his reputation and, when he returned to Paris (1866) to practice law, he was acknowledged as an authority in American studies.

Among his other books on the period of discovery are: Notes pour servir à l'histoire, à la bibliographie et à la cartographie de la Nouvelle-France et des pays adjacents, 15451700 (1872); Ferdnand Colomb, sa vie, ses œuvres… (1872); Christophe Colomb, son origine, sa vie, ses voyages, sa famille et ses descendants (2 vols., 1884–85); The Discovery of North America (1892); Americus (Eng., 1895); John Cabot, the Discoverer of North America… (1896); and The Diplomatic History of America. Its First Chapter… (1897).


H. Cordier, Henry Harrisse (Fr., 1912); R.G. Adams, Three Americanists (1939).

[Maury A. Bromsen]