A Tribute to Robert H. Ferrell
Distinguished Emeritus Professor of History Robert H. Ferrell died on August 8. Please see below for a tribute written by our own Nick Cullather, one of Professor Ferrell's many students. You'll also find an obituary by James Grant, another Ferrell student, in the Wall Street Journal and an obituary in the Aug. 22, 2018, edition of the New York Times.
Prof. Robert H. Ferrell passed away August 8 in Ann Arbor, Michigan where he was cared for by his daughter Carolyn and her family. He authored over 60 books, including American Diplomacy: A History, a standard text for college classes on foreign relations during the 1960s and '70s. Despite near blindness from macular degeneration, he published more after retirement than during his teaching years. In his nineties he assured friends he would slow down, but he was prone to backsliding. His latest monograph, Unjustly Dishonored: An African American Division in World War I, came out in 2011 shortly after Inside the Nixon Administration (2010) and a biography of Grace Coolidge (2008).
Ferrell joined the faculty at IU in 1953 and taught here for thirty-five years. He mentored several generations of graduate and undergraduate students who remember his Ballantine office stacked to the ceiling with books, part of a personal collection so large he bought a house near Bryan Park to store it. Ferrell's students learned his iron laws of writing: Short sentences are best. Never begin a paragraph with a date. Do not "stack" nouns. Two direct objects might slip past his red pen but three were an offense.
His care for his students went beyond the classroom. Tapping his many contacts in government, he placed students in jobs. When one complained of noise in the dormitories that made it hard to study, he went out for a nighttime reconnaissance and circulated a report demanding action from the administration.
The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, of which he was a founder, awards an annual book prize in his honor. He will long be remembered and missed by his many students, readers, and colleagues (even though this sentence is one he would never have allowed).
- In July, Deborah Deliyannis gave a paper on "Bishops as Patrons in Carolingian gesta episcoporum" at the 2018 International Medieval Congress in Leeds, UK.
- Colin Elliott's chapter 'The Role of Money in the Economy of Ancient Greece and Rome' was published in Battilossi, Cassis & Yago (eds.), Handbook of the History of Money and Currency. Berlin: Springer.
- In July, Sarah Knott convened a 2 day workshop on 'Mothering's Many Labours', sponsored by the Past and Present Society, at Oxford University. The workshop brought together twenty-some scholars of motherhood and work in historical periods from medieval Europe to twentieth-century Japan. In the same month, she spoke to the Past and Present board on the state of women's history.
- Mark Roseman published the article "Late Obsessions", in the journal Dapim vol. 28 (2018), 2: 138-143 as part of a round table about Thomas Weber's new book Becoming Hitler: The Making of a Nazi.