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Albert B. Corey 1898—1963

July 2024
1min read

Abert B. Corey was a gifted historian who believed that true history is of the people, by the people, and for the people.

As he saw it, history is basically the record of things done by ordinary, everyday folk who try to earn a living, to get a little fun out of life, and to serve their ideals and fellow men as best they can. They contribute the faith and quiet courage which make possible the bright deeds of their famous leaders; out of what they want and do and believe in come the great, seemingly impersonal forces and movements that make up the formal story of historic events. They not only make history: they are ultimately the ones to whom history’s story has to be directed.

Dr. Corey was State Historian of New York; as someone aptly remarked, he was thus a sort of “family historian” to millions of citizens who wanted to know more about their immediate backgrounds. He was also, from 1950 to 1954, president of the American Association for State and Local History, which gave him a broader field in which to perform the same function. He was intensely interested in the quarterly publication which the Association had begun in 1949—a modest but distinctive little magazine called American Heritage , which tried to tell people about their past in terms of the homely, familiar deeds and events that lie at the bottom of all human achievement.

During the latter part of his term as Association president Dr. Corey realized that the publication needed a firmer base and a larger audience. The Association could no longer carry it, because it could not reach very far beyond its own membership. The little magazine must either get new resources or go out of existence.

Dr. Corey wanted it to live and grow. He believed that it could do this as a commercial enterprise, because he believed that the general public would support it in such a way that it could realize its full potential. When it was proposed, early in 1954, that ownership of the magazine be transferred to a new publishing corporation that would put this matter to the test, he welcomed the proposal and supported it vigorously.

As a result, the American Heritage Publishing Company came into being, and AMERICAN HERITAGE Magazine was transformed into the publication that now exists. Its experience has shown that Dr. Corey’s confidence was justified. During the difficult period of transition from a small, specialized magazine to one that reaches a large audience, Dr. Corey’s wise advice, counsel, and assistance were invaluable.

If it had not been for Albert B. Corey, this magazine today would not exist. His untimely death on November 9, 1963, from an automobile accident robbed us of a valued counsellor and an even more deeply valued friend. These lines are written in tribute to a man to whom we are profoundly indebted.

Bruce Catton

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