William D. Aeschbacher (1919-98)
Daniel R. Beaver, May 1999
William D. Aeschbacher, professor of history emeritus at the University of Cincinnati, passed away October 23, 1998.
Prof. Aeschbacher was born in Tonganoxie, Kansas, and had just begun his first job as a high school teacher and principal in Madrid, Kansas, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He spent the next four years as a member of the U.S. Army Air Force, mostly in the Pacific theater. After the war, he entered the graduate program of the University of Nebraska, where he earned a PhD in 1948.
He taught for eight years at Murray State College in Kentucky before becoming the director of the Nebraska State Historical Society in 1956. It was there that he found vocation as an archivist and administrator. From 1963–66, he was director of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas. After accepting a post at the University of Cincinnati as head of the department of history in 1968, he vigorously advocated the creation of a serious university historical record-keeping system, and in 1972 became the first official, professional archivist of the University of Cincinnati. He was a member of the Society of American Archivists and served on the Archives Advisory Board of the National Archives from 1970–78.
He took an active part in the national affairs of the profession, serving as a member of the Truman Library Institute Board from 1957–71, and secretary-treasurer of the Organization of American Historians (earlier the Mississippi Valley Historical Association) from 1956–69 and treasurer from 1969–76. But it was the advocacy of state and local history that gave him the greatest satisfaction. He was an editor of Nebraska History and a member of the board of editors of the Journal of the West. He was secretary-treasurer of the Ohio Academy of History and a member of the Cincinnati Historical Society, where he worked vigorously to improve its facilities and record collection procedures. He served with distinction on its board and, in 1978, chaired its search committee for a new director.
Bill Aeschbacher retired from the University of Cincinnati in 1985. He was an excellent administrator, an outstanding archivist, and an able teacher and adviser. He will be missed by his wide circle of friends at the University of Cincinnati and by colleagues throughout the profession.
—Daniel R. Beaver
University of Cincinnati