MacArthur Fellows Program

Philip D. Curtin

Historian of Africa | Class of February 1983

Historian of Africa
Baltimore, Maryland
61 at time of award
June 4, 2009
Area of Focus
African History
Published February 1, 1983

About Philip's Work

Philip Curtin was a historian of Africa, who also wrote on aspects of world history.

Curtin’s research varied widely, from Caribbean history and studies of nineteenth-century British “mentalities” concerning Africa, to the economic history of West Africa and the Atlantic basin.  He wrote on historical economic anthropology and on the historical epidemiology of Africa and the tropical world.  His books included: The Atlantic Slave Trade: A Census (1969), Africa and Africans (co-author, 1971), Economic Change in Pre-Colonial Africa: Senegambia in the Era of the Slave Trade (1975), Cross-Cultural Trade in World History (1984), Death by Migration: Europe’s Encounter with the Tropical World in the Nineteenth Century (1989), The Rise and Fall of the Plantation Complex (1990), and The World and the West: The European Challenge and the Overseas Response in the Age of Empire (2000).


Curtin was the Herbert Baxter Adams Professor Emeritus of History at the Johns Hopkins University.  Much of his career was spent at the University of Wisconsin, where he was founding chairman of the African Studies Program and the Program in Comparative World History.

Curtin received a B.A. (1948) from Swarthmore College, and an M.A. (1949) and a Ph.D. (1953) from Harvard University. 

Last updated January 1, 2005.

Select News Coverage of Philip D. Curtin
July 15, 2009
"Philip Curtin"
The Telegraph
Philip D. Curtin , 1983 MacArthur Fellow
June 16, 2009
“Philip Curtin, 87, Scholar of Slave Trade, Is Dead”
The New York Times
Philip D. Curtin , 1983 MacArthur Fellow
May 4, 1998
"Curtin Call for Distinguished History Professor"
The Gazette
Philip D. Curtin , 1983 MacArthur Fellow
February 1, 1984
"Depth, Span, and Relevance"
American Historical Review
Philip D. Curtin , 1983 MacArthur Fellow
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