AHA President, 1971


Princeton University

From Perspectives, October 1987

Joseph Reese Strayer (August 20, 1904–July 2, 1987), eighty-two, died on July 2, 1987. A specialist in medieval history, Professor Strayer received his AB degree from Princeton University in 1925 and did graduate work in history at Harvard under Charles Homer Haskins. He received his PhD in 1930. After teaching one year at Stevens Institute in New Jersey, he joined the faculty of Princeton University as an instructor in 1930, rising to professor in 1942. He served as chair of the history department for twenty years beginning in 1942 and held successively the Lea chair and the Dayton-Stockton chair. He became professor emeritus in 1973.

Among his principal publications were The Administration of Normandy under Saint Louis, 1932; The Royal Domain in the Bailliage of Rouen, 1936; Studies in Early French Taxation (with C.H. Taylor), 1939; Feudalism, 1965; On the Medieval Origins of the Modern State, 1970; and The Reign of Philip the Fair, 1980, which received the Haskins medal of the Medieval Academy of America in April of this year. At the time of his death he was also editor-in-chief of the thirteen-volume Dictionary of the Middle Ages published by Charles Scribner and Sons.

Professor Strayer received honorary degrees from the University of Caen, 1957, Lehigh University, 1976, and Princeton University, 1980. He served as the president of the Medieval Academy of America, 1966–1969 and of the American Historical Association, 1971.

Widely considered the dean of American medievalists, Joseph Strayer’s interests were not confined to medieval French history. He served as a consultant to the State Department, published learned studies in English and American history, and counseled several generations of young men and women in many fields as they undertook to try to continue the tradition of scholarship, learning, and service that he embodied. His first wife, Lois, died in February 1984. He is survived by a daughter and by his second wife, Sylvia Thrupp, whom he married in 1986.—William Chester Jordan, Princeton University



The mainstream of civilization. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1989.

Western Europe in the Middle Ages: a short history. Glenview, Ill.: Scott, Foresman, 1982.

The reign of Philip the Fair. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980.

Feudalism. Huntington, N.Y.: R. E. Krieger Pub. Co., 1979, 1965.

The Albigensian Crusades. New York: Dial Press, 1971.

Medieval statecraft and the perspectives of history; essays by Joseph R. Strayer. With a foreword by Gaines Post. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1971.

On the medieval origins of the modern state. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1970.

The interpretation of history. Princeton: Princeton university press, 1943.

The delegate from New York. Princeton: Princeton university press, 1939.

Studies in early French taxation. By Joseph R. Strayer and Charles H. Taylor. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1939.

The administration of Normandy under Saint Louis. Cambridge, Mass.: The Mediaeval academy of America, 1932.