Publication Date

October 1, 2001

Perspectives Section

In Memoriam

Edward T. James, editor of supplements three and four of the Dictionary of American Biographers and coeditor (with his wife Janet Wilson James) of Notable American Women, 1607–1950, died on April 17, 2001, in Norwood, Massachusetts.

Born in Chicago on July 26, 1917, he attended the famed Francis Parker School and went on to Harvard College, where he graduated in 1938. His college roommate, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., described him affectionately in a recent memoir as a "decent, reticent, and forbearing young man." During the Second World War, Ed James served as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy. After the war he returned to graduate studies at Harvard, taking his doctorate in 1954.

A modest man of great integrity, he was an intelligent, careful, methodical editor. The three volumes and 1,350 sketches of Notable American Women both stimulated and undergirded the belated boom in women’s history. He later edited the Papers of the Women's Trade Union League and Its Principal Leaders (1981).

Though he lived primarily in Massachusetts, he had a lifelong devotion to Pentwater, Michigan, and returned in summers to the family cottage on Pentwater's North Beach. His last years were complicated by Alzheimer's disease, and he died of heart failure, leaving a daughter, a son, and four grandchildren. Memorials may be sent to the Pentwater Historical Society, Pentwater, MI 49449.


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