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In Memoriam

We remember in this space the passings of OAH members, friends, colleagues, and others within the profession. Please submit your announcement using this form.

Robert W. Johannsen, 1925-2011

Robert W. Johannsen, J. G. Randall Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus at the University of Illinois, died in Urbana, Illinois, on August 16, 2011, six days shy of his 86th birthday.

Best known for Stephen A. Douglas (1973), his biography of the Little Giant, Johannsen also wrote extensively on Lincoln, the Pacific Northwest in the frontier period, and the U.S.-Mexican War.

A native of Portland, Oregon, Johannsen graduated from Reed College in 1948, after his studies were interrupted by combat service in World War II. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Washington. After teaching a year at Washington and five years at the University of Kansas, he joined the Department of History at Illinois in 1959.

He attracted hundreds of students to his courses on nineteenth-century American history, the Jacksonian era and the Civil War. He also directed more than 35 dissertations.

In his writings, he endeavored to document the importance of Douglas in his own day. He sought to explain, not to defend, the Little Giant. Conversely, he attempted to moderate the popular, and even the professional, tendency to magnify Lincoln, to lift him beyond his own time and place.

Johannsen published not only a number of books and anthologies but also dozens of articles and reviews. The list of his writings in Politics and Culture of the Civil War Era: Essays in Honor of Robert W. Johannsen (2006) runs to 20 pages.

Johannsen was deeply committed to the study of the past and devoted beyond measure to teaching it. Those fortunate to have known him will always cherish the gentleness, warmth, and civility that pervaded his conversation and demeanor.

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Posted: August 26, 2011
Tagged: In Memoriam


Vincent DeSantis, 1916-2011

VINCENT P. DE SANTIS, noted historian of the Gilded Age, died in Victoria, British Columbia on June 5, 2011 at the age of 94. A faculty member at the University of Notre Dame for over sixty years, he was a native of Birdsboro, PA. where he was born on December 25, 1916 to an Italian immigrant and his American wife. After graduating from Birdsboro High School, he spent two years at manual labor earning money for college. He graduated from West Chester State Teachers’ College in 1941, at which time he entered the Army as a private and served with the 19th Regiment of the 24th Infantry Division in New Guinea and the Philippine Islands. He left the service in December 1945 as a captain.

He used the GI bill to enter graduate school in history at Harvard University and then completed his doctoral degree at Johns Hopkins, studying under the eminent C. Vann Woodward. He began teaching at Notre Dame in 1949 and continued his tenure until 2010, producing fifteen doctoral students and being a favorite undergraduate teacher. He received three Fulbrights for teaching and research in Italy, India, and Australia.

His first book Republicans Face the Southern Question, The New Departure Years, 1877-1897 is the definitive work on southern politics and the freed people in the late 19th century. His textbook, which covered the Gilded Age through the Progressive Period, is widely used in college classrooms around the nation. He meticulously kept a daily diary beginning with his college days in the 1930s. He continued to research and write until his last days, still able to hold his own on the latest historiography.

He was a regular attendee at history conferences and was well known for his ability to tease his friends and colleagues. He could remember jokes about them for years. He also financially supported a variety of individuals and academic institutions.

He was married twice, his first marriage producing four sons. He is buried in Birdsboro, Pennsylvania.

John F. Marszalek
Ulysses S. Grant Association
Mississippi State University

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Posted: August 23, 2011
Tagged: In Memoriam


Elwin F. Hartwig

Professor Elwin F. Hartwig - 1929-2011

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Posted: June 1, 2011
Tagged: In Memoriam


Otis Pease

Professor Otis A. Pease, September 6, 1925 - September 16, 2010, was a member of OAH since 1953.

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Posted: February 7, 2011
Tagged: In Memoriam


Robert Griffith

As his colleagues, we remember these gentle and generous ways as we mourn the loss of Robert Griffith, professor and chairman of the history department at American University in Washington, D.C. and OAH Treasurer, who passed away on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at the age of sixty-nine.

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Posted: February 7, 2011
Tagged: In Memoriam


Dr. Craig Wollner

Dr. Craig Wollner, Portland State University, Oct. 17, 1943 - Nov. 20, 2010.

More information is available at: http://obits.oregonlive.com/obituaries/oregon/obituary.aspx?n=craig-evan-wollner&pid=146922016

Posted: January 20, 2011
Tagged: In Memoriam


Dr. Robert J. Rusnak

Long time OAH member, Dr. Robert J. Rusnak, passed away November 21, 2010.

More information is available at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/chicagotribune/obituary.aspx?n=robert-jay-rusnak&pid=146822720

Posted: January 20, 2011
Tagged: In Memoriam


Lawrence Gelfand

Distinguished OAH member and Professor Emeritus in the Department of History at the University of Iowa, Lawrence E. Gelfand passed away in Irvine, California on November 30, 2010.

More information is available at: http://www.press-citizen.com/article/20101207/NEWS02/12070325/Lawrence-Gelfand-84

Posted: December 13, 2010
Tagged: In Memoriam


Richard E. Herrmann

Richard E. Herrmann, January 17, 2010, Volunteer State Community College, Gallatin, Tennessee.

More information is available at: http://www.stategazette.com/story/1603436.html

Posted: October 11, 2010
Tagged: In Memoriam


William H. Goetzmann

Pulitzer Prize-winning author, and OAH member, Dr. William H. Goetzmann, died September 7, 2010.

More information is available at: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/10262/1088642-122.stm

Posted: October 11, 2010
Tagged: In Memoriam


Robert Hohner

Robert A. Hohner, a historian of early twentieth-century southern politics, died on August 8, 2010, at his home in London, Ontario. In an educational career interrupted by service in the U.S. Navy, Bob received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from Duke University. After teaching briefly at the U.S. Naval Academy, Bob took a position in 1965 at the University of Western Ontario (UWO), where he remained in the Department of History until his retirement in 2001.

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Posted: September 16, 2010
Tagged: In Memoriam


David Weber

David J. Weber, the founding director of the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University, died on August 20, 2010, of multiple myeloma. Weber served the OAH in various capacities, most recently as a member of the OAH Executive Board (2006–2009) and as an OAH Distinguished Lecturer (1995–2001). For more information, visit www.smu.edu/News/2010/david-weber-dies-23aug2010.aspx.

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Posted: August 30, 2010
Tagged: In Memoriam


Peggy Pascoe

Peggy Pascoe, long time OAH member, and 2009 winner of the Lawrence W. Levine Prize for the best book in American cultural history, died on July 23, 2010 at the age of 55. For a complete obituary and brief biography, please visit http://history.uoregon.edu/news/pascoe_obituary/.

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Posted: August 26, 2010
Tagged: In Memoriam


Elizabeth Whitaker

OAH member Elizabeth Whitaker passed away on April 10, 2010 at the age of 51. She was a published author, lecturer, and researcher. For a complete obituary and brief biography, please visit http://obits.dignitymemorial.com/dignity-memorial/obituary.aspx.

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Posted: July 23, 2010
Tagged: In Memoriam


Ferenc “Frank” Szasz

Distinguished OAH member and University of New Mexico Regents’ Professor of History Ferenc “Frank” Szasz passed away Sunday, June 20, at the age of 70. For a complete obituary and brief biography, please visit http://news.unm.edu/2010/06/history-professor-ferenc-szasz-dies/.

The History Department and the UNM Foundation will be sending out an announcement shortly vis a vis the Service of Celebration of Ferenc’s life. The service will be held at the UNM Alumni Memorial Chapel from 2–4 p.m. on Friday, 27 August, with a reception hosted by the History Department directly after.

The announcement will also include contact information for contributions to the Fellowship established in our names. I list that information below, which you are welcome to add to the OAH website:

The Ferenc Morton Szasz and Margaret Connell—Szasz PhD Dissertation Fellowship in History
University of New Mexico
College of Arts & Sciences
MSC03 2120

1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131
Attn: Jeff MacNutt

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Posted: June 28, 2010
Tagged: In Memoriam


William Preston Jr.

William Preston Jr., a historian and activist whose 1963 book Aliens and Dissenters: Federal Suppression of Radicals, 1903–1933 helped open a new field of scholarly inquiry into government policies that repressed radicals and restricted civil liberties, died on April 19, 2010, at his home in Martha’s Vineyard. He was 85.

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Posted: April 26, 2010
Tagged: In Memoriam


Louis R. Harlan

Louis R. Harlan, Distinguished University Professor emeritus at the University of Maryland, College Park, died on January 22, 2010, in Lexington, Virginia, where he and his wife Sadie had lived in retirement since 2003. He ranks among the leading historians of his generation whose body of work on Booker T. Washington and his study Separate and Unequal: Public School Campaigns and Racism in the Southern Seaboard States, 1901–1915 (1958) leave an enduring legacy. He will also be remembered for his many contributions to the historical profession, holding the distinction of being the only person to serve concurrent terms as president of the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, and the Southern Historical Association.

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Posted: January 22, 2010
Tagged: In Memoriam