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Milton Meltzer

milton meltzer, milton meltzer books
Milton Meltzer May 8, 1915 – September 19, 2009 was an American historian and author best known for his history nonfiction books on Jewish, African-American, and American history Since the 1950s, he was a leading author of history books in the children's literature and young adult literature genres, having written more than 100 books He won the biennial Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for his career contribution to American children's literature in 2001


  • 1 Life
  • 2 Writing
  • 3 Other
  • 4 Military
  • 5 Death
  • 6 Works
    • 61 Autobiographical
    • 62 Other
  • 7 Notes
  • 8 References
  • 9 External links


Meltzer was born in Worcester, Massachusetts to Benjamin and Mary Meltzer, semi-literate immigrants from Austria-Hungary One of three sons, Meltzer was the only child to graduate from high school, furthering his education at Columbia University from 1932 to 1936, he had to drop out of college before graduating to support his family after his father died of cancer Meltzer became a writer for the Works Project Administration, a program designed by the Federal Government to provide jobs for the millions of unemployed during the Great Depression

Meltzer wed Hilda "Hildy" Balinky on June 22, 1941 After serving in the Army during World War II, Meltzer was a writer for the CBS radio broadcasting network and later a public relations executive for the pharmaceutical company Pfizer While traveling the country for Pfizer, Meltzer did research at historical societies, local archives and museums and collected nearly 1,000 illustrations to begin a career writing history books with a focus on social justice Meltzer co-authored with Harlem Renaissance writer Langston Hughes, A Pictorial History of the Negro in America published in 1956

The Meltzers had two daughters and two grandsons Hildy Meltzer died in 2009 Meltzer most recently lived in New York City where he died at the age of 94 from esophageal cancer


Meltzer's books often chronicled struggles for freedom, such as the American Revolution, the antislavery movement of the nineteenth-century United States, and the movement against antisemitism He wrote several biographies, including ones of Langston Hughes and Thomas Jefferson, and though most of his books are nonfiction, he wrote at least one historical novel, The Underground Man, about a white abolitionist in the 1800s United States who is imprisoned for helping escaped slaves Meltzer won several awards for single books and career achievements In 2003 he received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award from the professional children's librarians, which recognizes a living author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made "a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children" The committee noted that he "continues to be a model for informational writing today" and cited four works in particular: Brother Can You Spare a Dime; Ten Queens; All Times, All Peoples; and The Jewish Americans

The two books by Meltzer most widely held in WorldCat participating libraries are Never to Forget: the Jews of the Holocaust 1976 and Rescue: the story of how gentiles saved Jews in the Holocaust 1988 The latter is classified as juvenile literature and was soon published in a German-language edition


Meltzer was an adjunct professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a lecturer at universities in the United States and England, as well as professional meetings and seminars He did work on various documentary films such as History of the American Negro and Five


Meltzer served in the Army Air Corps during World War II, where he served as an air traffic controller and rose to the rank of sergeant


Milton Meltzer died at his home in New York City from esophageal cancer on September 19, 2009, aged 94



  • Starting from Home: A Writer's Beginnings Viking Kestrel, 1988
  • Milton Meltzer: Writing Matters Franklin Watts, 2004


  • A Pictorial History of the Negro in America, Langston Hughes and Milton Meltzer 1956
    • 3rd ed revised by C Eric Lincoln and Milton Meltzer 1968
    • 4th revised ed, A Pictorial History of Black Americans, by Langston Hughes, Milton Meltzer, and Abraham Lincoln Crown, 1973
  • Mark Twain Himself: A Pictorial Biography 1960
  • Milestones to American Liberty 1961
  • Thoreau: People, Principles and Politics 1963
  • In Their Own Words: A History of the American Negro, editor Crowell, 1964–1967, 3 vols
  • Black Magic: A Pictorial History of the Negro in American Entertainment, Langston Hughes and Milton Meltzer 1967; later title, Black Magic: A Pictorial History of the African-American in the Performing Arts
  • Bread and Roses: The Struggle of American Labor, 1865–1915 1967
  • Langston Hughes: A Biography 1968 — NBA finalist
  • Brother, Can You Spare a Dime: The Great Depression, 1929–1933 1969
  • Margaret Sanger: Pioneer of Birth Control 1969 co-author
  • Bound for the Rio Grande: The Mexican Struggle 1845-1850 1974
  • Remember the Days 1974 — NBA finalist
  • World of Our Fathers 1974 — NBA finalist
  • Never to Forget: The Jews of the Holocaust 1976
  • Dorothea Lange: A Photographer's Life 1978
  • The Human Rights Book 1979
  • All Times, All Peoples: A World History of Slavery 1980
  • The Jewish Americans: A History in Their Own Words 1982
  • The Black Americans: A History in Their Own Words, 1619–1983 Crowell, 1984, 306 pp
  • Ain't Gonna Study War No More: A Story of America's Peace Seekers 1985
  • George Washington and the Birth of Our Nation 1986
  • The American Revolutionaries: A History in their Own Words, 1750–1800 1987
  • Benjamin Franklin: The New American 1988
  • Rescue: The Story of How Gentiles Saved Jews in the Holocaust 1988
  • Starting From Home 1988
  • Voices From the Civil War: A Documentary History of the Great American Conflict 1989
  • Columbus and the World Around Him 1990
  • The Big Book for Peace Dutton, 1990 Illustrated by Leonard Everett Fisher
  • Thomas Jefferson: The Revolutionary Aristocrat 1991
  • The Amazing Potato: A Story in Which the Incas, Conquistadors, Marie Antoinette, Thomas Jefferson, Wars, Famines, Immigrants, and French Fries all Play a Part 1992
  • Ten Queens: A Portrait of Women of Power 1998
  • There Comes a Time: The Struggle for Civil Rights 2001
  • Edgar Allan Poe: A Biography 2003
  • Hear That Whistle Blow!: How the Railroad Changed the World 2004
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne: A Biography 2007


  1. ^ a b c Langston Hughes, Remember the Days, and World of Our Fathers were finalists for the National Book Award, Children's Literature
    "National Book Awards – 1969" National Book Foundation Retrieved 2012-02-08
    "National Book Awards – 1975" National Book Foundation Retrieved 2012-02-08


  1. ^ a b "Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, Past winners" Association for Library Service to Children ALSC American Library Association ALA
      "About the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award" ALSC ALA Retrieved 2013-03-09
  2. ^ a b "The Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal" ALSC ALA 2001 Archived from the original on 2002-02-19 Retrieved 2013-06-10 
  3. ^ a b New York Times: Milton Meltzer, Prolific Author, Dies at 94
  4. ^ Milton Meltzer obituary School Library Journal Archived February 29, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Milton Meltzer papers archived at the University of Oregon
  6. ^ a b Worcester Area Writers - Milton Meltzer

External links

  • Children's literature portal
  • African Americans portal
  • United States portal
  • Guide to the Milton Meltzer Papers 1955–1973, Special Collections, University of Oregon — with biographical notes
  • "'It Was a Wildly Exciting Time': Milton Meltzer Remembers the New Deal's Federal Theatre Project" at History Matters
  • 2001 Award acceptance speeches in libraries WorldCat catalog — audiobook including the Wilder speech by Meltzer
  • Milton Meltzer at The Worcester Writers Project
  • Milton Meltzer at Bookrags

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