Joseph L. Arnold (1938-2004)
John W. Jeffries, October 2004
Joseph L. Arnold, Professor of History at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, died on January 5, 2004, at the age of 66. He was a vital and enormously important member of the UMBC faculty for some three and a half decades as well as a leading historian of urban and planning history.
Joe Arnold earned his BA from Denison and his MA and in 1968 his PhD from Ohio State University. Before joining the UMBC faculty in 1968, he taught at Bowling Green State University in 1962–63 and at what was then Southern Connecticut State College from 1965 to 1968.
Arnold's first book, The New Deal in the Suburbs: A History of the Greenbelt Town Program, 1935–1954, remains the standard account of New Deal community planning. Subsequently, in addition to numerous scholarly articles and essays, he published books on the Flood Control Act of 1936; on the Baltimore Engineers and the Chesapeake Bay from 1961 to 1987; on Maryland's growth and development; and (with Edward Orser, of UMBC's American Studies Department) on the development of Catonsville, Maryland, as a streetcar suburb. At his death, Arnold was working on what will be his sixth book, a definitive study of Baltimore. He also played an active and often leading role with a variety of private and public historical institutions in the Baltimore area and at his death was hailed as the "dean of Baltimore historians."
As a teacher and mentor, Joe Arnold guided and opened new vistas for the students who filled his classes to overflowing. His undergraduate and graduate students alike profited not only from his enormous knowledge but also from his limitless kindness, his devotion to them, his generosity, and his manifest love of learning. He helped guide the history department and the university by his service in a remarkable array of important capacities, including acting director of the library at a critical time. To all of his duties, as to all of his relationships, Joe Arnold brought his humanity, patience, wisdom, sense of responsibility, good humor, and good judgment. He not only earned the respect of his students and colleagues; he earned their affection, and their trust, and their loyalty. He was as good a friend as one could have. A Joseph L. Arnold Memorial Fund has been established at UMBC's Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery to support the Joseph L. Arnold Maryland Collection in the Library's Special Collections.
Joe Arnold is survived by his wife, Mary Jane, and by their three children and six grandchildren.
John W. Jeffries
University of Maryland, Baltimore County