Publication Date

November 1, 1989

Perspectives Section

In Memoriam

Leon Bernard

Leon Bernard, noted historian of French history at the University of Notre Dame, died May 9, 1989. He received his undergraduate degree from Tulane University in 1938 and his graduate degrees from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 1947 and 1950.

He began his academic career at John Carroll University in 1949. The following year he moved to the University of Notre Dame, where he remained until his death and where he climbed the academic ladder to the top rank of professor. During his almost forty years at Notre Dame he had a very busy academic career of teaching classes with large enrollments and serving as director of the department’s summer school program. In 1967, he founded and edited The History Teacher before it moved to California State University, Long Beach in 1972. He served as a manuscript referee for the Macmillan Company and for the Notre Dame Press. His publications, including a book on seventeenth-century Paris, The Emerging City (Duke), made solid scholarly contributions to French history.

Professor Bernard’s academic specialty was seventeenth century French history, the French Revolution, and the Napoleonic Era. He published widely in these areas and was, on one occasion, awarded the Koren Prize of the Society for French Historical Studies for his article, “French Society and Popular Uprisings Under Louis XIV.” He was a long time member of this society and was listed, among other places, in the Dictionary of American Scholars.

Professor Bernard was one of the most respected, esteemed, and popular members of the Notre Dame history department and of the university’s faculty as a whole.

Leon Bernard will be remembered especially for his humaneness, decency, civility, his unfailing consideration of others, and loyalty to friends. He will also be remembered as a very popular teacher and as a serious and productive scholar.

Vincent P. DeSantis
University of Notre Dame

Cyril E. Black

Cyril E. Black, emeritus James S. McDonnell Distinguished Professor of History and International Affairs at Princeton University, died of congestive heart failure on July 18, 1989 at the age of 73.

Professor Black received his B.A. from Duke University, and a M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard. In 1939 he became a member of the Princeton faculty and, in 1946, inaugurated the study of Russian history for undergraduates with a course he continued to teach until the 1970s. From 1968 to 1985, Professor Black chaired the university’s Center for International Studies. He retired from Princeton in 1986.

Throughout his research career, Professor Black wrote or contributed to many publications including his most recent book, Understanding Soviet Politics: The Perspective of Russian History.

During World War II, he undertook several assignments for the State Department and, as a Foreign Service Auxiliary Officer, was an aid to the U.S. Political Adviser on the Allied Control Commission in Bulgaria from 1944 to 1945.

Professor Black is survived by his wife, son, daughter, and granddaughter.

Rondel V. Davidson

Rondel V. Davidson, 49, specialist in European intellectual history, professor, and former chair of the History and Philosophy Department at Pan American University, Edinburg, TX died August 27, 1989 in McAllen, TX. Professor Davidson was probably best known for his 1988 book, Did We Think Victory Great? The Life and Ideas of Victor Considerant.

Born in Lubbock, Professor Davidson was educated at McMurry College (B.A. 1962) and Texas Tech University (M.A. 1967, Ph.D. 1970). He taught for two years at McMurry College and in 1972 joined the history faculty at Pan American University. He served as director of the honors studies program and in 1978 became chair of the history department. In 1984-85 Dr. Davidson was visiting professor of history at Texas A&M. A past president of the Texas Association for the Advancement of History, Dr. Davidson received the 1989 Distinguished Alumnae Award from the Texas Tech University Department of History for his efforts to raise standards of history instruction in colleges, universities, and high schools in the state.

Survivors include his wife, two daughters, son, mother, and sister.

Sarah C. Neitzel
Pan American University

Howard M. Ehrmann

Howard M. Ehrmann, 91, professor emeritus at the University of Michigan, died March 28, 1989. A native of Terre Haute, IN, he attended DePauw University before earning his B.A. (1921), M.A. (1922), and Ph.D. (1927) from Yale. He was a member of the University of Michigan History Department from 1927 to 1968, serving as its chair from 1953 to 1959. He also taught at the University of Southern California, Stanford University, and as a Fulbright Scholar at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced Studies in Bologna, Italy. During both world wars he served in the U.S. Navy, and was a consultant and historian at the Naval Ordnance Laboratory, White Oaks, MD (1971-1975) and later for the Department of Defense (1975-1980).

Ehrmann was a recognized authority in post-1870 European diplomatic history and excelled in the meticulous training in methodology he provided in his seminars. He oversaw the microfilming of the captured German Foreign Office records and the publishing of A Catalogue of Files and Microfilms of the German Foreign Ministry Archives, 1867-1920. He was also instrumental in the filming of the captured German naval records (with Professor F.H. Hinsley) and the captured Italian military archives at Alexandria, VA.

A member of the AHA of long standing, he also served from 1941–44 on the board of editors of the Journal of Modern History.

He is survived by his wife and a cousin.

Arnold Price
American Historical Association

David I. Gaines

David I. Gaines, a member of the History Department of the College of the City of New York for forty years, died on March 23, 1989 in New York, NY at the age of 92. He received his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees from Columbia University. An authority on modern European history, especially the development of German national symbolism, he was esteemed for his scholarship, dedication to teaching, and concern for his students. Professor Kenneth Arrow of Stanford University, the 1972 Nobel Prize winner in economics, named Dr. Gaines in history and Dr. Alfred Tarski in logic as the two great teachers he had had at City College. He is survived by two daughters.

Sidney Ratner
Rutgers University

Albert Henry Imlah

Albert Henry Imlah, former professor of history at Tufts University and professor of diplomatic history at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, died of cancer on July 8, 1989 at his home in Falls Church, VA. He was 88. Born in New Westminster, British Columbia, Professor Imlah earned his A.B. from the University of British Columbia, his M.A. from Clark University, and his Ph.D. from Harvard. After teaching at the University of Maine, Professor Imlah joined the Tufts faculty in 1927. Thirty years later he was appointed Dickson Professor of English and American History and chair of the department. In 1944 he was appointed adjunct professor of diplomatic history at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He retired in 1970 and was subsequently awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters by Tufts in 1981.

Professor Imlah published several articles focusing on economic history and wrote two books: Lord Ellenborough, Governor General of India and Economic Elements in the Pax Britannica.

His passionate interest in appropriate salary levels for college-level teachers led Professor Imlah to become active in the American Association of University Professors. From 1946–49, he served on the AAUP national council, and he chaired its Committee on the Economic Status of the Profession from 1948–58.

Professor Imlah is survived by a wife, two daughters, and four grandchildren.

Michael Boro Petrovich

Michael Boro Petrovich, former Evjue-Bascom Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin, Madison died of cancer on March 28, 1989 at the age of 67. His death comes within a year of his retirement from thirty-seven years of service at the university.

Born in Cleveland, OH, of Serbian and Croatian parentage, Petrovich was educated at Western Reserve University (B.A. 1941) and Columbia University (M.A. 1943, Ph.D. 1955). Between 1943 and 1945 he was an officer in the OSS, his most important service seen in Belgrade as a member of the Independent American Military Mission to Marshall Tito.

His career at the University of Wisconsin began in 1950. His rise through the faculty ranks was studded with awards and distinctions, campus and professional, for his scholarship and teaching, and culminated in his designation as the Evjue-Bascom Professor of History. His campus service was extensive and included the organization of a Russian area studies program.

Petrovich understood academic commitment not as an esoteric specialization, but as a richly variegated totality. Supervising some sixty master’s and doctoral dissertations, he trained a large number of disciples who carry on his work in Russian, Soviet, East European, and Balkan history. Equally dedicated to undergraduate education, Petrovich was recognized as a master teacher whose classes were always popular and whose students long remembered his wisdom, insight, and eloquence.

But he saw his educational responsibilities—especially in the post-World War II era when understanding of Eastern Europe was so needed but so flawed—as far wider than merely campus activity. His lectures were taped and repeatedly broadcast on the state radio network. He spoke tirelessly before civic groups, ran adult-education seminars, and led tours to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.

Active in community life, Petrovich was a devout Orthodox Christian, a talented amateur musician, an expert on liturgy, and the founder of an unusually fine choir at Madison’s Greek Church.

Articulate and eloquent in both formal lecturing and private conversation, Petrovich was a warm friend, a multifaceted human being, and a remarkable scholar and teacher. He is deeply mourned and sorely missed.

John W. Barker
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Rena L. Vassar

Rena L. Vassar, Professor of History at California State University, Northridge, died on July 14, 1989. A victim of cancer, she was 62. Her colleagues and her many friends throughout this country and abroad will remember her for her charm, high professional standards, and uncompromising integrity.

Born in Pueblo, CO Professor Vassar took her bachelor of arts at the University of Colorado and completed the Ph.D. in American colonial history at the University of California, Berkeley in 1958. She joined the Northridge faculty seven years later. She also taught at Indiana University, the University of Colorado, Claremont, and Colgate. At Northridge she developed new courses in the history of American women and in oral history. She had an exceptionally loyal following of students. They knew her as a demanding teacher who was uncommonly generous with her time. Though considerable, Professor Vassar’s published legacy reflects only a portion of her broad range of scholarly interests. Her two-volume Social History of American Education (Rand McNally) appeared in 1965. At the time of her death she had completed much of the research for a landmark history of women in higher education.

Colleagues and friends knew Rena Vassar as a person of wide-ranging and complex intellect. She was devoted to the arts; not a week went by without a concert or play. Her fine memory gave her quite an astonishing breadth of knowledge in an array of fields. She had a bounteous capacity for friendship, and eagerly aided those who were troubled. This compounded the frustration of all who tried to return full measure during her final months. Friends who were not with her then will feel no surprise that she was a model of grace, unflinchingly courageous to the end.

John J. Broesamle
California State University, Northridge