- Existence: 1932 - 2020
Alan Trachtenberg (1932-2020) was the Neil Gray Jr. Professor of English and professor emeritus of American Studies at Yale University. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English from Temple University in 1954 and a Master of Arts in English from the University of Connecticut in 1956. He completed his Doctor of Philosophy in American Studies at the University of Minnesota in 1962.
From 1961 to 1970, Trachtenberg taught at the Pennsylvania State University. He was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University from 1968 to 1969. He joined the faculty at Yale in 1969. In the 1970s, he served two terms as the American Studies department's director of graduate studies and one as department chair. He had visiting professorships in Leningrad, Kyoto, and Doshisha Universities, as well as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rhode Island Institute of Technology, and Cooper Union. Trachtenberg retired in 2001.
Trachtenberg's book Reading American Photographs: Images as History, Mathew Brady to Walker Evans, a study of American Photography from 1839 to 1938 (1990) won the Charles C. Eldredge Prize for outstanding scholarship in the field of American art. His other works include Brooklyn Bridge: Fact and Symbol (1965), The Incorporation of America: Culture and Society in the Gilded Age (1982), and Lincoln's Smile and Other Enigmas (2007).
Alan Trachtenberg was married to Betty Trachtenberg, who served as Yale's Dean of Student Affairs from 1987 to 2007. The two had three children: Zev Trachtenberg, Elissa Trachtenberg, and Julie Trachtenberg.