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Alfred Worcester Crosby Edit Profile

non-fiction writer , historian , university professor

Alfred Worcester Crosby, American history educator. Fellow National Institutes of Health, 1971-1973, National Humanities Institute, 1975-1976, Fulbright Foundation, 1979, 85-86, Guggenheim Foundation, 1987-1988; Cardozo Furst Professorship Yale University, 1977; John A. Burns Professorship University Hawaii, 1991-1992.


Crosby, Alfred Worcester was born on January 15, 1931 in Boston, Massachusetts, United States. Son of Alfred Worcester and Ruth (Coleman) Crosby.


Bachelor of Arts, Harvard University, 1952;A.M.T., Harvard University, 1956;Doctor of Philosophy, Boston University, 1961;Doctor of Humane Letters (honorary), Grinnell College, 1992.


He is the author of such books as The Columbian Exchange (1972) and Ecological Imperialism (1986). In these works, he provides biological and geographical explanations for why Europeans were able to succeed with relative ease in what he refers to as the Neo-Europes of Australasia, North America, and southern South America. Recognizing the majority of modern-day wealth is located in Europe and the Neo-Europes, Crosby set out to investigate what historical causes are behind the disparity.

According to Hal Rothman, a Professor of History at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Crosby “added biology to the process of human exploration, coming up with explanations for events as diverse as Cortez’s conquest of Mexico and the fall of the Inca empire that made vital use of the physical essence of humanity.” In 1972 he created the term Columbian Exchange in his book of the same name. The term has become popular among historians and journalists, such as Charles C. Mann, whose book 1493 expands and updates Crosby's original work. He has taught at Washington State University, Yale University, the Alexander Turnbull Library in New Zealand, and the University of Helsinki.

He was appointed an academician by Finnish president Martti Ahtisaari. He is currently Professor Emeritus of History, Geography, and American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.



Served with United States Army, 1952-1955. Member American Association Environmental History, American History Association, Finnish Academy, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Texas Institute Letters.


Married Frances E. Karttunen, May 20, 1983. Children by previous marriage: Kevin, Carolyn. Stepchildren: Jaana, Suvi.

Alfred Worcester Crosby

Ruth (Coleman) Crosby

Frances E. Karttunen

Jaana Crosby

Suvi Crosby