Joel Colton

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Joel Colton
Joel George Colton (Joseph Goldstein)

(1918-08-23)August 23, 1918
DiedApril 17, 2011(2011-04-17) (aged 92)
Cause of deathHeart failure
ResidenceDurham, North Carolina
Alma materCity University of New York
Columbia University
Columbia University
Spouse(s)Shirley Colton (?-2003) (survived by two children Kenneth and Valerie Colton)
Scientific career
InstitutionsDuke University
Rockefeller Foundation

Joel G. Colton (August 23, 1918 – April 17, 2011)[1] of Durham, North Carolina, was a modern history scholar and author. He received his B.A. in history from City College in 1939 and his M.A. from Columbia University in 1940. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, he returned to Columbia, from which he received his Ph.D. in 1950. He taught at Duke University from 1947 until his retirement in 1982, except while serving as director of humanities at the Rockefeller Foundation between 1974 and 1982.

His contributions to R.R. Palmer's A History of the Modern World, is a classic. In 2002, it was reported that "First published in 1950, it has been translated into six languages and is used in more than 1,000 colleges and universities as well as many high school advanced placement courses." [2] By 2011, the book had been translated int 10 languages.(Slotnick's Colton obit) Since its original publication, its reputation continued to grow. "In 1987, The New York Times put it on its list of the 19 classic textbooks of all time, in all disciplines. The Washington Post in 1996 called it 'the first book to be elevated to the textbook hall of fame'" [3]

He died of congestive heart failure.

Major publications[edit]

  • A History of the Modern World (2nd - 9th editions). NY: McGraw-Hill, 9th edition.
  • Leo Blum: Humanist in Politics. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1987.
  • Twentieth Century. Amsterdam: Time-Life Books, 1969.
  • Compulsory Labor Arbitration in France, 1936-1939. NY: Kings Crown Press, 1951.


  1. ^ Slotnik, Daniel E. (April 21, 2011). "Joel Colton, Who Kept History Current for 50 Years, Dies at 92". The New York Times. Retrieved April 24, 2011.
  2. ^ Martin, Douglas. 18 June 2002. R.R. Palmer, 93, History Text Author Dies. New York Times .https://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/18/us/r-r-palmer-93-history-text-author-dies.html
  3. ^ Martin, Douglas. 18 June 2002. R.R. Palmer, 93, History Text Author Dies. New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/18/us/r-r-palmer-93-history-test-author-dies.html