Publication Date

February 1, 1996

Editor’s Note: Because of space limitations, we are not able to publish all of the obituaries that we have received. We will publish additional obituaries in spring issues of the newsletter.

Darwin F. Bostick

Darwin F. Bostick, emeritus professor of history at Old Dominion University, died on October 17, 1995. A member of the American Historical Association for over 25 years, he earned his B.A. and M.A. at the University of North Texas and his Ph.D. at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign under the direction of Paul Schroeder. Bostick taught at Old Dominion for 27 years and took disability retirement in summer 1995, as he battled the cancer that took his life. A European diplomatic historian, his research interests focused on relations between Great Britain and Austria in the age of Palmers ton. His publications analyzed the role of the press in the molding of foreign policy in 19th-century Britain.

Much loved by his students and colleagues, Bostick was a dedicated teacher and faculty leader who influenced the lives of thousands of students. His Nazi Revolution course was arguably the most popular of the many courses he taught, and his historical methods course developed the research and writing skills of history majors. He chaired the Faculty Senate of the university and was the faculty leader in developing general education requirements for all of the university's students. A prime mover in the development of undergraduate and graduate programs in international studies at the university, his counsel was universally sought and respected in committees at all levels of the university. Possessed of a ready wit and indomitable courage in the face of adverse circumstances, Bostick provided in his life of service a model for friends, students, and colleagues. He is survived by his wife, Theodora P. Bostick, professor of history at Christopher Newport University.

John W. Kuehl
Old Dominion University

Nancy Louise Grant

Nancy Louise Grant, Ph.D., associate professor of history at Washington University in St. Louis, died of breast cancer on October 10, 1995, at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis. She was 46.

A public policy historian, Grant was widely acclaimed as a scholar of diverse interests. She came to Washington University in 1989 from Dartmouth College. During spring 1994 and the 1994-95 academic year, she was a fellow at the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African-American Research at Harvard University.

Born in New England, she received her B.A. in history from Smith College, in Northampton, Mass. Grant received a master's degree and a doctorate in 1972 and 1978, respectively, from the University of Chicago, where she studied under John Hope Franklin.

Grant's recent research focused on the employment of minorities in the federal government from the 1940s to 1975, particularly the U.S. Postal Service, America's largest civilian employer. At the time of her death, she was writing a book entitled Uncivil Service: The Employment of Blacks in the Federal Government, 1940-1975. Grant began research for her books on black employment in 1982-83, while she was a visiting scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. Her research was supported by a Mellon Development Grant in 1982 and by a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship for Minority Scholars in 1983.

In 1990 she published a book entitled TV A and Black Americans: Planning for the Status Quo. Her journal publications included articles on government treatment of African Americans, the impact of the American and French revolutions on slavery, and a historical perspective on the relationship between African Americans and Jews. She was known as a fighter for justice, and her research often examined the treatment of ethnic and religious minorities.

In 1993 Grant organized a conference, "Blacks and Jews: An American Historical Perspective," at Washington University. Twenty-six historians, political scientists, and sociologists from across the country spoke during the conference, which examined elements of cooperation and conflict between blacks and Jews.

Her multifaceted interests extended to music, a subject she pursued at Yale University. Trained as a classical violinist, she was a member of the Chicago Musicians Union and of the Bridgetower Academy String Quartet in Chicago. She also studied African American composers of classical music and published articles about African American classical musicians in St. Louis. In addition to classical music, she played violin in the orchestra pit for Broadway musicals that came to Chicago.

Her professional affiliations included membership in the AHA, Organization of Black Women Historians, Southern Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, and the Academy of Political Science, among others. She was a reviewer for the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Research Council.

Carolyn Sanford
Washington University in St. Louis

Robert O. Lindsay

Robert O. Lindsay received a B.A. in history and French from the University of Nevada in 1953, an M.A. from the University of Minnesota in Library Science in 1957, a second M.A. in history from the University of Oregon in 1960, and a PhD. in history from the University of Oregon in 1965. He served as a librarian at the University of Oregon (1957-60) and the University of Wisconsin (1962-65) before moving to the history department at Ohio University (1965-1967) and subsequently to the University of Montana from 1967 until his death. He served as chairman of that department from 1975 to 1978. He also taught at the Faculte des Lettresin Avignon in 1970, 1971, and 1981. His training in history and bibliography informed his research. He published Witter Bynner: A Bibliography (1967) and coedited French Political Pamphlets: 1547-1648: A Catalog of Major Collections in American Libraries (1969) and Mazarinades: A Checklist of Copies (1971). His articles on geographical discovery and 17thcentury book collecting and travel literature appeared in a number of journals. The library of Seigneur de Peiresc, a 17th-century bibliophile, drew his attention. His research was supported by the American Philosophical Society (1965 and 1970) and the Folger Shakespeare Library (1966), among others. Extensive research and travel in France undergirded his work and informed his teaching. His class on methodology honed the writing and bibliographic skills of those who survived it. His classes on early modem European history and European exploration were infused with his love and appreciation for French art, literature, and cuisine. He held himself and his students to an exacting standard. He always wore a coat and tie (never boots, even in Montana) to class. His sense of duty infused his life. He called his students to follow his example. His quick laughter, ready wit, and quiet integrity distinguished his career. He gave generously of himself to his colleagues and his students. The university honored him with the distinguished teaching award and the adviser of the year award. He served his country as a Marine and his University as a professor of history. His love of sports, particularly tennis, and his reputation across campus led to his appointment as faculty representative to the National Collegiate Athletic Association from 1987 to 1995. His door was always open both to his students and to his colleagues in history and across campus.

Linda S. Frey
University of Montana at Missoula

Jacob Rader Marcus

With the death of Professor Jacob Rader Marcus on November 14, 1995, at the age of 99, historians of the American Jewish experience lost their founding father and Reform Judaism lost its most cherished symbol of historic continuity, its most beloved and oldest living rabbi. An active member of the faculty of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion since 1920, Marcus was teacher and mentor to an estimated 2,000 Reform rabbis who studied with him over the course of three quarters of a century. He also directed numerous doctoral dissertations American Jewish history, whose study and teaching he modernized and legitimized.

Jacob Rader Marcus was born near Conellsville, Pennsylvania, on March 5, 1896. His father and mother were part of the great migration of eastern European Jews to the United States that began in the early 1880s. Both came from Lithuania, a heritage of which Marcus was especially proud.

Marcus attended Hebrew Union College and the University of Cincinnati. In 1917 he was awarded his B.A. from the University of Cincinnati but had to delay his rabbinic ordination while he volunteered as a private in the U.S. Army. His diaries of the period show that numerous aspects of his character and his world view of later years were shaped by those two years of military service.

In June 1920, a year after his return from the army, Marcus was ordained a rabbi. It was recommended to Hebrew Union College president Kaufmann Kohler that he appointed to the college faculty as an instructor in Bible and rabbinics. Marcus had already made up his mind not to seek a career in the active rabbinate, declining an offer to become an associate rabbi in a London synagogue. His teaching duties at the college were enormous. This diversity of courses, which ranged from Bible to modern history, pointed out to Marcus his jack-of all-trades, master-of-none status. He decided to legitimize his professional academic career by pursuing a Ph.D. in Germany.

He studied in Germany from 1922 to 1925. He took courses at the liberal Hochschulefiir die Wissenschqft des Judentums, a rabbinic seminary, and at the University of Berlin. He studied with such legendary names as Leo Baeck and Ismar Elbogen at the Hochschule and at the university with the renowned Bismarck scholar, Erich Marcks. Marcus received his Ph.D. in 1925 from the University of Berlin, magna cum laude. His dissertation, which dealt with mercantile relations between England and the Hanseatic league in the 16thcentury, was published in that same year.

He returned to Cincinnati in 1926 and began to publish primarily in the area of German-Jewish history. Two books were especially noteworthy: The Rise and Destiny of the German Jew (1934) and Communal Sick-Care in the German Ghetto (1947). In 1938 he published The Jew in the Medieval World, the first source book in English on medieval Jewish history, still used as a text for college courses nearly six decades after its first publication.

Professor Marcus's fears about the future of European Jewish life, first expressed during his time in the American army, became more and more acute in the years after his return to Cincinnati. After 1933 and the rise of National Socialism, he recognized that American Jewry might soon replace Europe as the creative center of Jewish life. His fears proved to be a reality. The Holocaust destroyed much of European Jewish life and civilization. Even before the terrible truths about the end of European Jewry became known, Professor Marcus was already beginning to study the American Jewish experience. In 1942 he taught the first course in American Jewish history to be given in an American college or university.

In 1947 Marcus founded the American Jewish Archives, which today is the most important research and archival institution in the world devoted to the history of the Western Hemispheric Jewish experience.

For over half a century, Jacob Rader Marcus was the commanding figure among historians of the American Jewish experience. No one was as thorough a researcher, no one produced such readable narratives, no one published as many books and scholarly articles, no one pursued with such singularity of purpose the systematic archival collection of the 350- year experience of Jews in the New World.

His three-volume history, The Colonial American Jew (1970), and his four-volume study, United States Jewry, 1776-1985 (1989-93), represent a level of historical research and scholarship that will most probably never be equaled.

In all, Jacob Rader Marcus wrote or edited nearly 30 volumes on European and American Jewish history and well over 250 scholarly articles. At his death, he occupied the Milton and Hattie Kutz Distinguished Service Chair in American Jewish History at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish institute of Religion and was the director of the American Jewish Archives. He was a past president of the American Jewish Historical Society and a former trustee of the Jewish Publication Society. In addition, he was the honorary president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the rabbinic organization of Reform Judaism. He also was the recipient of eight honorary degrees and two Festschriften, and he was a SO-year member of the AHA.

When those meeting Professor Marcus for the first time in his later years remarked how busy he seemed during his retirement, he replied without hesitation, "I am still fully employed." This was the case until the very end of his life. On the Friday before he died, I placed in his hands a book, newly published and written by him, entitled Maunderings of a Centenarian: An Informal and Illustrated History if the American Jewish Experience. He had two more books in press at the time of his death.

Abraham J. Peck
American Jewish Archives
Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Robert W. Sellen

Dr. Robert W. Sellen, professor of history at Georgia State University, died on November 23, 1995, of a heart attack. The son of Arthur G. and Grace W. Sellen, he was born in Topeka, Kansas, on October 13, 1930. Sellen graduated from Washburn University summa cum laude. After serving as an Air Force lieutenant during the Korean War and reserve captain afterward, he earned his MA and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Chicago, where he was a Danforth Fellow and University Fellow.

Sellen taught at Baker University in 1958-64, where he served as chair of the Department of History and Political Science. He came to Georgia State University in 1964 and was promoted to full professor in 1968. A popular teacher, Sellen held the rapt attention of first-year history students with tales of great events and illustrations from broadsides and newspapers. A prodigious reader, he brought together complex issues of American foreign policy in understandable ways for upper-division and graduate students. He was a visiting professor at New York University three times and lectured at the University of San Marcos and Villareal University in Peru.

Sellen also appeared on the programs of many learned societies, including those of the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians. He coedited two books and published 60 articles and 400 book reviews. In 1990 his article "National Interest: A Neglected Element of American Foreign Policy" appeared in Midwest Quarterly. His most recent paper, “Les Etats-Unis et les crises de l'ere apres la guerre froide,” was presented in 1994 at the (European) Association of North American Studies Conference in La Rochelle, France, and published in Annales Du Monde Anglophone in spring 1995. Sellen was scheduled to give a paper at the March 1996 Missouri Valley History Conference.

Always ready with an apt story, Sellen was frequently interviewed on television and radio about historical and political topics from U.S. national interest to political cultures in various countries. Sellen was also in great demand as a lecturer with adult study groups in the metropolitan Atlanta area. With his wife Donna D. Sellen, he was active as a host for the Georgia Council for International Visitors and for the Friendship Force.

Timothy Crimmins
Georgia State University

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