Publication Date

April 1, 1991

Perspectives Section

In Memoriam

David Herlihy

David Herlihy

David J. Herlihy, Barnaby Conrad and Mary Critchfield Keeney Professor of History, Brown University, and the 1990 president of the American Historical Association, died on February 21, 1991, in Providence, at the age of 60. A prominent scholar of medieval/Renaissance history, Dr. Herlihy received his master’s degree from Catholic University in 1953 and his doctorate from Yale University in 1956. His teaching career began at Bryn Mawr College, 1955–1964, and continued on at the University of Wisconsin, 1964–1972 (as William H. Allen Professor); Stanford Institute for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, 1972–1973; Harvard University, 1973–1986 (as Henry Charles Lea Professor); and finally at Brown University, 1986 to the present.

His doctoral thesis became his first book, Pisa in the Early Renaissance, 1958; (Italian editions, 1973 and 1990). He progressed steadily through his career of written scholarship, publishing Medieval and Renaissance Pistoia: A Social History of an Italian Town, 1967 (Italian edition 1972); his monumental quantitative study coauthored with Christiane Klapisch-Zuber, The Tuscans and Their Families, 1978 (English edition 1985, Italian edition 1989); The Social History of Italy and Western Europe, 1978; Cities and Societies in Medieval Italy, 1980; Medieval Households, 1985; and Women and Work in Medieval Europe, 1989. Dr. Herlihy is notable for his pathbreaking scholarship of women’s roles in medieval history. He was working on an analysis of the Florentine ruling class from 1328 through 1530 at the time of his death.

He served as president of the Medieval Academy of America and of the Society for Italian Historical Studies and was the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships. Last year, Dr. Herlihy was awarded the Galileo Galilei Award, one of the most prestigious prizes in Italy, for his contributions to Italian culture and history.

Described as a gentle and unassuming man, Dr. Herlihy will be sorely missed by colleagues and especially by his graduate students, many with whom he was particularly close.

He is survived by his wife, Patricia Herlihy, professor of Russian history, also of Brown University, and by six children.

His presidential address entitled “Family” opens the February 1991 issue of the American Historical Review, which also includes Tamara K. Hareven’s “The History of the Family and the Complexity of Social Change” and other related articles.