In Memoriam: Edgar Newman
Bill Weber, February 2002
From the In Memoriam column in the February 2002 Perspectives
Edgar "Ned" Newman died of cancer, a malignancy of the central nervous system, in Baltimore, Maryland, on November 30. He was a Louisiana boy, born and raised in New Orleans, enlightening us Northerners with the drawl distinctive to that region. He and I were together at the Phillips Exeter Academy, where he graduated in 1957, going on to receive his BA at Yale in 1962. We hooked up again at the University of Chicago, where he completed the doctorate in 1969. He served as one of Louis Gottschalk's assistants doing the biography of the Marquis de Lafayette, a project that has gained renewed interest recently for its extraordinary detail about daily life. He taught at New Mexico State University from 1969 to 2000; he also joined his wife Linda Clark-Newman on the staff of Millersville University of Pennsylvania for a year and a half during the 1990s.
Ned's dissertation, "Republicanism during the Bourbon Restoration in France, 1814–1830," led to publications that figured centrally in the reassessment of the Revolution of 1830, indeed the nature of European revolutionary behavior in general. Particularly prominent among them are "The Blouse and the Frock Coat: The Alliance of the Common People of Paris with the Liberal Leadership and the Middle Class during the Last Years of the Bourbon Restoration," Journal of Modern History (1974); "The Image of the Crowd in the Revolution of 1830," Annales Historiques de la Révolution Française (1980); and "What the Crowd Wanted in the Revolution of 1830," in France in 1830, John Merriman, ed. (1975). He then edited the 1,241-page-long Historical Dictionary of France from the 1815 Restoration to the Second Empire with Robert Simpson (1987).
Ned was a central leader in the founding of the Western Society for French History, which held its first annual meeting in Flagstaff in 1974. Under his influence the society inaugurated an unusually broadly focused program, giving graduate students the opportunity to present their work and mingle easily with established scholars. He gave numerous papers at its meetings, the last in 2000: "Pygmalian manqué: George Sand's Failed Attempt to Rewrite Life." He contributed a history of the society's founding to its proceedings in "How it All Began: The Making of the Western Society for French History in 1974" (1998).
His treatment of the subject of worker poets first emerged in the Journal of Modern History in "L'arme du siècle, c'est la plume: The French Worker Poets of the July Monarchy and the Spirit of Revolution and Reform" (1979). He returned to the project during the 1990s, publishing a variety of pieces, including "Workers Remember the French Revolution in Song, 1830–1852," in Boris Blick and Louis Patsouras, eds., Rebels Against the Old Order, Essays in Honor of Morris Slavin (1994). He linked up with scholars of German socialism with "Wie die Erinnerung an die Erste Franzosische Republik in Gedichten und Liedern der Arbeiterklasse (1830–1852) gezähmt wurde" ("How the Memory of the First French Republic in Working-Class Writing and Song was Defanged"), in Wort und Waffe, eds. Eva Kimminich and Claudia Krülls-Hepermann. At the time of his death Ned had nearly completed a book manuscript on the subject.
He ventured into other areas as well, publishing "The Historian as Apostle: Romanticism, Religion, and the First Socialist History of the World," Journal of the History of Ideas (1995) and "The French Background of Tocqueville's Democracy in America," Tocqueville Review (1985–86).
California State University at Long Beach