Austin Beard, born in Indiana in 1874 would become one of the most influential
American historians of the early 20th Century. In his youth he
worked on his family farm and attended a local Quaker school, going on to attend
University at a Methodist college.
He came to England in 1899 to study at Oxford University. Here he met and collaborated with Walter Vrooman in founding Ruskin Hall. He also married his classmate Mary Ritter, a historian with an interest in feminism and the labour union movement. Together they would collaborate on many textbooks, including The Rise of American Civilization in 1927.
After co-founding Ruskin Hall in 1899, Charles taught for the first time and lectured workers in industrial towns to promote Ruskin Hall and encourage enrolment in their correspondence courses. Charles persuaded several prominent academics and trade unionists to lend support to the project. Charles was tasked with outlining an educational programme for the college.
He returned to the United States in 1902 to study History at Columbia University. He received his doctorate in 1904, becoming a lecturer at the University, before leaving at the outbreak of the First World War. Later he would be active in the American Political Science Association and was elected its President in 1926. He was also a member of the American Historical Association and served as its president in 1933.