AHA President, 1926


Princeton University

From the American Historical Review 38:3 (April 1933)

Dana Carleton Munro (June 7, 1866–January 13, 1933). There are few men whose loss from the historical profession could have brought such a realization of deprivation and sense of regret as that produced by the sudden death of Professor Dana C. Munro. He died of pneumonia after but a few days illness in a hospital in New York on January 13, 1933. He had been up to the time of his illness in good health and full vigor, occupied with many scholarly and personal activities and plans. His life had been one of unusual balance between teaching, administrative, and literary work, and between travel and the quiet enjoyment of home surroundings.

Professor Munro was born on June 7, 1866, in Bristol, Rhode Island, where his family had lived for five generations. He graduated from Brown University in 1887 and received advanced degrees from that institution in 1890 and 1912. He studied for a short time in Germany and taught three years in high schools. During the years 1892 and 1893 he carried on postgraduate study at the University of Pennsylvania and in 1893 was appointed instructor and subsequently assistant professor of Medieval history there. From 1902 to 1915 he was professor of European history at the University of Wisconsin and from 1915 till his death he was professor of Medieval history at Princeton. He early became interested in the period of the Crusades and at various times made different aspects of that period the subject of his teaching courses, seminars, and public addresses. The Crusades were also the subject of his course of Lowell Institute Lectures. These he prepared for publication and they will probably appear at an early date. He planned to write an extended history of the Crusades and twice visited the Near East to obtain greater clearness of knowledge of the surroundings and conditions of those events.

In 1903 he published a volume of Essays on the Crusades. He also wrote several well-known textbooks in Ancient :md Medieval history, among them The Middle Ages (1921), and translated and edited several numbers of the University of Pennsylvania Translations and Reprints. Throughout his career he was a frequent contributor of book reviews to historical journals.

While in Philadelphia and engaged in his study of the Middle Ages he was invited by Henry C. Lea to make use of his library and so became intimate with the great Church historian, who repeatedly mentioned to the writer of this sketch his enjoyment of his conversations with Munro. On the other hand, his description of Mr. Lea’s methods of work and reminiscences of their intercourse have been placed on record by him in various articles.

At Wisconsin he shared in the administrative work of the university, and was active in the State Historical Society and the Wisconsin Academy, and president of the latter from 1912 to 1915. During the World War he was research assistant to the Committee on Public Information and later chairman of the National Board of Historical Service. In this connection he prepared and issued two pamphlets, German War Practices and German Treatment of Conquered Countries. He was active in the affairs of the American Historical Association and was its president in 1925–1926. On this occasion his former students presented him with a volume of studies, most of which were in the field of Medieval history and all of which reflected his critical influence and scholarly ideals.

In 1928, when Professor Jameson felt it necessary to withdraw from the managing editorship of this journal and arrangements could not at the time be made to place it in charge of a permanent editor, Professor Munro agreed to take the editorship for a year and was in charge of the volume for the year 1928–1929. In the same year the recently formed Council of Learned Societies felt the need of preparatory study of the various projects brought before it for discussion and recommendation to the great foundations for subsidy or support, and set up an Advisory Board of which Professor Munro was made chairman and so remained till his death. His judicial temperament and his appreciation of the importance or recognition of the impracticability of the proposals that were being brought in constantly increasing numbers before the council made his advice and service in this position invaluable. He spent much time during his later years in reediting Paetow’s Guide to the Study of Medieval History. He became president of the Medieval Academy in 1930 and remained so till his death. He was active in the affairs of the American Philosophical Society. He was a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

It is not yet known how near his large work on the Crusades is to completion. He was recognized as the most eminent authority in that field and the importance of the publication of a new and scholarly treatment of that whole subject has been long recognized. Many interruptions, his editorial and administrative work, and his high scholarly standards have prevented its more rapid progress. He was working upon it during the last few months of his life and was anticipating early opportunity for more continuous writing when he should have retired from teaching, as he would have done at an early period. But it is for his influence as a teacher and guide of advanced students, for his ready appreciation and encouragement of other men’s work, for his many services in the cause of scholarship and for his warm, kindly nature that Professor Munro will be especially remembered. A host of students and colleagues valued his friendship and will feel the world poorer for his loss.E. P. Cheyney



A history of the middle ages, by Dana Carleton Munro. New York, D. Appleton and company, 1902

The middle ages and modern Europe, by Dana Carleton Munro and Merrick Whitcomb. 2 vols. New York, D. Appleton, 1903.

Medieval civilization. Enl. ed. New York: The Century co., 1907.

German war practices. Edited by Dana C. Munro, George C. Sellery and August C. Krey. Washington: Committee on public information, 1917-1918; Reprint, Fredonia Books, 2001.

The middle ages, 395–1272, by Dana Carleton Munro. New York, The Century Co., 1921.

The kingdom of the crusaders, New York, London, D. Appleton-Century company, incorporated, 1935.

The Crusades, and other historical essays; presented to Dana C. Munro by his former students. Edited by Louis J. Paetow. Freeport, N.Y., Books for Libraries Press, 1968, c1928.

Life of St. Columban by the Monk Jonas, edited by Dana Carleton Munro. Felinfach: Llanerch Publishers, 1993.