In Memoriam: Michael Curran
Joseph H. Lynch, September 2006
From the In Memoriam column of the September 2006 Perspectives
Professor Michael W. Curran, longtime member of the Department of History at Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, passed away February 15, 2006, after an extended illness.
Professor Curran was born in Mauston, Wisconsin, on January 29, 1935. He received his BA in 1957 and his PhD in Russian history in 1965, both from the University of Wisconsin. Between 1959 and 1964, he studied and did research at the Freie Universität in Berlin, Leningrad State University, Moscow State University, and the Russian Research Center at Harvard University. In 1964 he joined the Department of History at the Ohio State University, where he served for 28 years until his retirement in 1992. In addition to his teaching and service in the Department of History, Curran was a generous and effective administrator. Among other assignments he was associate dean (1976–82) and acting dean (1982–83) of the College of Humanities; assistant provost (1983–84); dean of University College (1985–91); and director of the Office of Study Abroad (1991–92).
Curran was a scholar who specialized in the history of Russia under the Czars. He admired many aspects of Russian culture in which he immersed himself enthusiastically. Between 1959 to 1993, he traveled almost every year to Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, which he knew extraordinarily well. In addition to articles, he co-authored two well-respected and much-used textbooks, A History of Russia and the Soviet Union and Beyond, now in its sixth edition, and Russia and the USSR in the Twentieth Century, which is in its fourth edition. Curran’s research was supported by fellowships and grants from several sources, including the Ford Foundation and the Deutsche Akademische Austaushdienst.
Michael Curran was also a remarkable teacher. Many students at Ohio State University were introduced to the important history of Russia and the Soviet Union in his courses. He was an enthusiastic, charming, and interesting public speaker, who had a gift for choosing the episode or piece of art that illuminated his scholarly point. After he retired he turned his teaching talents to the benefit of Ohio State alumni groups, which he guided on educational trips to Russia and Eastern Europe.
Michael Curran is survived by his wife, Ann M. Salimbene, and daughters, Elizabeth and Sara.
—Joseph H. Lynch
Ohio State University