In Memoriam

Priscilla Smith Robertson (1910-89)

AHA Staff, November 1990

Priscilla Smith Robertson, 79, a respected historical scholar and lecturer, died on November 23, 1989.

Born in Paris, France in 1910, Ms. Robertson received her A.B. from Vassar College in 1930. Her research focused on 19th-century history and the history of women and family life. Her publications include, among other works, The Revolutions of 1848 (1952) and An Experience of Women: Pattern and Change in 19th-Century Europe (1982).

Ms. Robertson was a history lecturer at Indiana University from 1962 to 1967 and a visiting lecturer there from 1967 to 1968. During this time she was also a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute of Independent Studies from 1965 to 1967, and she spent a semester at Harvard University in 1966. In 1968 she was appointed as a visiting lecturer in history at Kentucky Southern College.

Ms. Robertson's life-long interest in public policy issues was apparent in her commitment to community involvement and public service. In the 1930s, working with the Southern Tenant Farmer's Association, she traveled south to help organize tenant farmers. She was a chapter president of the Massachusetts ACLU in the 1950s. After moving to Kentucky, she helped found the Kentucky Humanities Council and the Kentucky League of Women Voters. She was also a Sunday editor of the Courier Journal of Louisville, Kentucky.

In 1956 Ms. Robertson received the National Institute of Arts and Letters Award. She was a long-time member of the American Historical Association.

Ms. Robertson was known among her colleagues for her love of ideas, her dedication to teaching, and her intellectual tenacity. At the time of her death she was working on a semi-autobiographical photo-history of southern tenant farmers in the 1930s.