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In Memoriam

Professor Emeritus and former Department Chair Robert Burr

The UCLA History Department is sad to announce the passing of Professor Emeritus Robert N. Burr (1916-2014), one of this country’s leading Latin American historians, who passed away on December 8, 2014 at the age of 98.  Burr wrote extensively about the history of Latin American politics and was best known for his work on Chile.  He traveled widely in Latin America and often served as a government consultant. In 1966 his path-breaking study, By Reason or Force: Chile and the Balancing of Power in South America, 1830-1905, was awarded the Bolton Prize for the best book in Latin American History by the American Historical Association. Burr went on to write a number of additional books, including Our Troubled Hemisphere: Perspectives on United States-Latin American Relations which was published by the Brookings Institution in 1967; earlier, he published The Stillborn Panama Congress: Power Politics and Chilean-Colombian Relations during the War of the Pacific (University of California Press, 1962).  From 1948 until his retirement in 1987, he served as Professor of Latin American History at the UCLA, where he helped to establish a major program in Latin American Studies. From 1973 to 1978, Burr served with great distinction as Chair of the Department of History at UCLA, and from 1985-1987, he was the Director of UCLA’s International Studies and Overseas Programs.  He also served for a time on the associated staff of the Brookings Institution.   Burr’s well balanced and thoroughly researched academic studies were matched by a leadership style that combined a fine sense of humor with the manners of a well bred gentleman.  His charm, even-handedness, and good sense made him many friends and even in his late years highly popular and socially active.

Robert N. Burr was born in Rochester, New York, on October 15, 1916.  His father, John Edwin Burr, and his mother, Ethel Bills, were both from Rochester.  He graduated from the University of Rochester in 1939 and received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1948.  In 1940 he married Virginia Ward -- a marriage that ended in divorce in 1949-- a daughter, Tracy Elizabeth, was born in 1942, and a son, Robert Franklin in 1944. During WWII Burr applied for a commission in the Navy and was accepted for the post-war occupation of Japan, but failed his eye examination.  Instead he got a job at the General Railway Signal Corp. and helped to build fire control systems for B-29 Bombers. In 1945-46 he was engaged in various business enterprises, before taking a teaching position at Rutgers University in 1946 and moving to UCLA in 1948.  While in Chile in 1951-52, he met Elizabeth Evarts and they were married in 1952.  She passed away in 1998.  In his late years he divided his time between Los Angeles and Long Island. He is survived by his son, Robert F. Burr of New York and his spousal niece, Lucy E. Kenny of Port Jefferson, Long Island.

---- obituary by Professor Fred Notehelfer

Norman Apter, Ph.D graduate

We regret to announce that Professor Norman Apter passed away on February 8, 2014 from melanoma. He received his Ph.D. from UCLA in Summer 2013 under the mentorship of Philip Huang and Kathryn Bernhardt. His dissertation was titled “Saving the Young: A History of the Child Relief Movement in Modern China.” He had been teaching at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts since 2011, where he specialized in twentieth-century Chinese social and cultural history, with an emphasis on the histories of children, childhood, and the issue of state and society. Last spring he was featured in Clark University’s magazine: http://clarkvoices.clarku.edu/2014/02/10/apter/.


James Lockhart, Distinguished Emeritus Professor of Latin American History

Professor Emeritus James Lockhart passed away peacefully on January 17, surrounded by his family, including his daughter and son, Elizabeth and John, and his wife, Mary Ann. Lockhart was one of the most original, accomplished scholars in the field of early Latin American history. He was born in West Virginia in 1933, where he attended the state university in Morgantown. He enrolled in the Army Language Institute and worked as a translator in post-war Europe, especially in Germany. His gift for learning languages led him to consider graduate study in Comparative Literature, but he decided to pursue a degree in History at the University of Wisconsin, where he wrote his dissertation on Spanish Peru. This was the basis of his first book, a classic study of Peruvian society in the 16th century. He taught at Colgate and the University of Texas before he settled down at UCLA in 1972. After writing two groundbreaking books on Peru, he began to shift his attention to Mexico, while publishing a collection of letters from sixteenth-century Spanish America with Enrique Otte, and a state-of-the-field textbook titled Early Latin America with Stuart Schwartz. Lockhart went on to pioneer the translation and analysis of archival Nahuatl-language texts from central Mexico, collaborating with several scholars from diverse disciplines, and became one of the world's leading experts on the Nahuatl language, as it was written in the Roman alphabet from the mid-16th to the early 19th centuries. He edited a Nahuatl book series published by the UCLA Latin American Center and published several more books on the topic with Stanford University Press. His magnum opus, The Nahuas After the Conquest (1992), won multiple book prizes from the American Historical Association. He mentored dozens of graduate students before he retired from UCLA early in his career, in 1995. After retirement he moved from Santa Monica to Pine Mountain, California, where he continued to publish several books, to co-chair dissertation committees, to help others publish books, and to work with scholars and students around the world via the mail and internet--until the last few weeks of his life. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2012 he received the XIV Banamex Prize for Mexican History in Mexico City.

Jim, as he is known to us, was very fond of Renaissance music and enjoyed playing the lute, vihuela, mandolin, recorder, and classical guitar with family and friends. He also found joy in woodworking and was good enough at it to craft his own furniture and musical instruments. He was an avid sports fan. He liked hiking in the mountains, and with Mary Ann became an active member of the Sierra Club. Most of all, he loved to teach students who were eager to learn, and his genuine enthusiasm for knowledge and generosity was contagious. He will be missed, to say the least, but he and his brilliant work will never be forgotten. A memorial gathering and conference in his honor are now in the planning.


Norris Hundley, Distinguished Emeritus Professor

Norris Cecil Hundley, jr. passed away peacefully on April 28, 2013. He was born to Norris and Helen Hundley, and was the oldest of seven children on October 26, 1935 in Houston, Texas. His surviving siblings are Juanita Walters, Helen Daugherty, Betty Howell, John Hundley, Patty Talbott, and Dr. Charles Hundley. In 1954, Norris met Carol Marie Beckquist at San Gabriel Mission High, they fell in love and were married on June 8, 1957.

Norris graduated from Whittier College in 1958. After receiving his Ph.D. in History in 1963 from UCLA, he taught at the University of Houston for a year before returning to UCLA in 1964. He was a Professor of American History at UCLA from 1964 – 1994. Professor Hundley was a renowned scholar of water rights in the west.


Professor Alexander (Alex) Saxton 1919-2012

Alexander SaxtonThe UCLA History Department announces with sadness the passing of distinguished emeritus Professor Alex Saxton at the age of 94.

Alex Saxton, who first came to the Department in 1968 and mentored a great many students, both graduate and undergraduate, died in Lone Pine, California on August 20. Alex was a dedicated labor organizer and gifted proletarian novelist before he became an historian. Two of his novels have been republished in recent years. He was one of the founding fathers of the UCLA Asian American Studies Center and the creator of new courses in American history, including the first course on Filipino-American history and another on Film and History, that Saxton, Religion and the Human Prospectattracted students in large numbers. The last of his three major history books, Religion and the Human Prospect, was published in 2006 in his 88th year. Earlier works include The Indispensable Enemy: Labor and the Anti-Chinese Movement in California (1975) and The Rise and Fall of the White Republic: Class Politics and Mass Culture in Nineteenth Century America (2003). Unwavering in his commitment to a more truly democratic society, he continued to write witty and sage essays for the Inyo Register, the main paper of the Owens Valley, until the very end.

To read more about the fascinating life and career of Alex Saxton, see the essay by Bob Rydell, one of his former students and close friends: "Grand Crossing: The Life and Work of Alexander Saxton," Pacific Historical Review 73 (2004), 263-285. http://www.jstor.org/stable/pdfplus/3641602.pdf.


Melissa Meyer, Professor

Melissa L. Meyer, historian of American Indians, died on April 9, 2008, of complications from a cerebral hemorrhage suffered the previous summer.  She was 53 years old.

Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, of mixed Irish, German and Eastern Cherokee heritage, Meyer graduated from the University of Cincinnati and went on to receive her PhD in American history from the University of Minnesota in 1985. Already as a student, Meyer began her search for answers to questions about Native American identity that would ultimately define her intellectual journey and scholarly career.

With the publication of The White Earth Tragedy (1994), Meyer established her reputation as a leading scholar in her field.  In it, she detailed the expropriation of land from Anishinaabegs of the Great Lakes region from 1889 to 1920.  Her research demonstrated the adaptivity of the Anishinaabegs in the face of migration, intermarriage, federal policy and corporate schemes. She also revealed how internal divisions tragically furthered the process of their dispossession.  Her analysis of ethnicity among the Anishinaabegs at White Earth showed how distinctions between “mixed bloods” and “full-bloods” came to be framed and why they produced long-term consequences for the welfare of the White Earth bands.  The White Earth Tragedy also thrust “blood” into the centerpiece of debates about tribal enrollment and the issues of intermarriage and historical experiences of individuals of mixed descent.

Across the next decade, Meyer expanded her analytical frame to explore belief and rituals concerning blood in regional and religious contexts throughout human history.  She included the preliminary findings in “American Indian Blood Quantum Requirements:  Blood is Thicker Than Family,” one of twenty articles in an essay collection, OVER THE EDGE; REMAPPING THE AMERICAN WEST (1999), edited by Blake Allmendiger and Valerie Matsumoto.   In 2005 she published the magisterial Thicker Than Water: The Origins of Blood as Symbol and Ritual, which one critic praised as a text that links discourses about blood with the myths, legends, and science that are repeatedly used to explain “that most impossible of things: life.”  Even scholars who criticized Meyer’s book praised its “unusual virtues.”

Meyer was an active and engaged faculty member both at UCLA and in the profession at large. In addition to being a member of the Department of History, she was associated with the UCLA American Indian Studies Center and American Indian Studies Interdepartmental Degree Program. She was also a longtime Member of the Advisory Board, Center for American Indian Research and Education (CAIRE).  During her years at UCLA, Meyer represented the History Department in the Academic Senate, and she served on Undergraduate Council as well as numerous History Department committees.  Meyer also participated in the American Historical Association, the Pacific Branch of the American Historical Association, Western Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, and American Society for Ethnohistory. She was a frequent member of prize and conference program committees.

A generous and attentive mentor, Meyer worked closely with undergraduate and graduate students alike.   Her course materials blended American Indian autobiographies with contemporary issues that caught the attention of students. An undergraduate in the class she was teaching at the time of her stroke described her as “a great professor who was very enthusiastic about the material she taught, and it showed in her class.” She inspired by example. One graduate student remembers her as never afraid to “roll up her sleeves” and get into the trenches to demonstrate what good teaching was about, and doctoral students with whom she worked now teach at institutions like UC Berkeley, New Mexico State, Knox College, Loyola Marymount and UCLA.  In her teaching as well as her scholarship, Meyer insisted that Native Americans not be marginalized or romanticized, arguing for their central place in American History.

Meyer disdained the role of poseur.  She was not an ivory tower intellectual.  Although earning coveted teaching positions at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Dartmouth College, and the UCLA, she worked tirelessly to reform the institutions and the bureaucratic practices that sometimes stood in the way of scholarly work, collegiality, and good teaching. A self-described “child of the sixties,” she challenged authority.  She viewed asymmetries and abuse of power as intolerable.  She was outspoken in her advocacy, courageous in adversity, and fiercely loyal to her friends.

She was as civic-minded as she was tough-minded. She applied her expertise in museology to assist in the design of a permanent exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of American History. She acted as a consultant on Native American issues for CBS News, the Smithsonian, the Minnesota Chippewa tribe, the US Department of Justice, Indian Claims Division, and the History Channel.

Melissa Meyer’s untimely death has saddened her students and friends as well as her colleagues both in the UCLA History Department and the larger, national Native American Studies community. She is survived by her mother Helen Meyer, her sister Diana Meyer-Margeson of Loveland, Ohio, her husband, Russell Thornton, a professor in the UCLA Department of Anthropology, her daughter Tanis, and her son Zane. Meyer dedicated Thicker Than Water to Tanis and Zane, and she clearly felt them to be her greatest source of inspiration. In countless scholarly conversations and emails to colleagues, she returned time and again to “those precious children.”


Miriam Silverberg, Professor

Miriam Silverberg passed away in the morning on March 16, 2008.

Miriam was a Professor of History and former Director of the Center for the Study of Women (CSW) at UCLA.  Her field of research covered Japan, Modern Japanese Thought, Culture, Social Transformation; Social and Cultural Theory; and Comparative Historiography.  Miriam directed CSW from 2000 to 2003.  She created the CSW Workshop Project that is still in existence today.  One of these workshops, "Migrating Epistemologies," met up until 2007.  Under Miriam's directorship, CSW sponsored a groundbreaking conference titled Feminism Confronts Disability.  She also launched the first Biennial Women's Community Action Award Dinner (with the UCLA Women's Studies Program); a conference entitled Educating Girls: New Issues in Science and Technology Education; and a talk by Matsui Yayori on the Women's International War Crimes Tribunal.  Miriam was a vibrant, productive, and important scholar.  Despite debilitating illness over the last several years, she continued her research and writing and published Erotic Grotesque Nonsense: The Mass Culture of Japanese Modern Times in 2007.  To many faculty she was a wonderful colleague and she will be greatly missed.

More on Miriam Silverberg in this Los Angeles Times obituary.


Eugen Weber, Professor

Eugen Weber died peacefully the evening of May 17, 2007 of pancreatic cancer.

Eugen was Chair of History, Dean of Social Sciences, and Dean of the College in his long career at UCLA.  It is a blessing that last year UCLA hosted a conference, organized by Professor Caroline Ford, which honored Eugen and his book, "Peasants into Frenchmen."  His friend and admirer, Joan Palevsky, gave UCLA a Chair in his honor.  Professor Lynn Hunt is the current Eugen Weber Professor of European History.

Full obituary at UCLA News.



Stanford J. Shaw (1930-2006), Professor

Stanford J. Shaw was born in St. Paul, Minnesota on May 5, 1930. He attended Stanford University, where he majored in British History under the direction of Professor Carl Brand, with a minor in Near Eastern History, under the direction of Professor Wayne Vucinich. He received his B.A.at Stanford in 1951 and M.A. in 1952, with a thesis on “The Foreign Policy of the British Labour Party from 1920 until 1938” based on research in the Hoover Institution at Stanford. He then studied Middle Eastern history along with Arabic, Turkish and Persian as a Graduate Student at Princeton University starting in 1952, receiving his M.A. in 1955. Shaw subsequently went to England to study with Bernard Lewis and Paul Wittek at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and with Professor Hamilton A.R. Gibb at Oxford University. Following this, he traveled to Egypt to study with Shafiq Ghorbal and Adolph Grohmann at the University of Cairo and Shaikh Sayyid at the Azhar University, also doing research in the Ottoman archives of Egypt at the Citadel in Cairo for his Princeton Ph.D. dissertation concerning Ottoman rule in Egypt. In 1956-7 he studied at the University of Istanbul with Professors Omer Lutfi Barkan, Mukrimin Halil Inanc, Halil Sahillioglu, and Zeki Velidi Togan, also completing research on his dissertation in the Ottoman archives of Istanbul and in the Topkapi Sarayi archives. He received his Ph.D. degree in 1958 from Princeton University with a dissertation entitled “The Financial and Administrative Organization and Development of Ottoman Egypt, 1517-1798,” prepared under the direction of Professor Lewis Thomas and Professor Hamilton A.R. Gibb, which was published by the Princeton University Press in 1962. Stanford Shaw served as Assistant and Associate Professor of Turkish Language and History, with tenure, in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and in the Department of History at Harvard University from 1958 until 1968, and as Professor of Turkish history at UCLA from 1968 until his retirement in 1992. Afterwards he was recalled to teach Turkish history at UCLA between 1992 and 1997 before going to Bilkent University as Professor of Ottoman and Turkish History starting in 1999.

Stanford Shaw was founder and first editor of the International Journal of Middle East Studies, published by the Cambridge University Press for the Middle East Studies Association, from 1970 until 1980. He is the author of numerous books and articles, including (with his wife Ezel Kural Shaw) History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey (2 volumes, Cambridge University Press 1976-1977), Between Old and New: The Ottoman Empire under Sultan Selim III (Harvard University Press), The Budget of Ottoman Egypt (Mouton and Co. The Hague), Ottoman Egypt in the Age of the French Revolution (Harvard University Press), Ottoman Egypt in the Eighteenth Century (Harvard University Press), The Jews of the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish Republic (Macmillan, London, and New York University Press, 1991), Turkey and the Holocaust (Macmillan, London and New York University Press, 1992), The Turkish War of National Liberation, 1918-1923 (Turkish Historical Society, 3 volumes, 1999), and Studies in Ottoman and Turkish history (Analecta Isisiana, 2000).

He was an honorary member of the Turkish Historical Society (Ankara), recipient of honorary degrees from Harvard University and the Bogazici University (Istanbul), and a member of the Middle East Studies Association, the American Historical Society, and the Tarih Vakfi (Istanbul). He also received a Medal of Honor (Liyakat Madalyasi) from the President of Turkey and medals for lifetime achievement from the Turkish-American Association and from the Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA) at the Yildiz Palace, Istanbul.

Professor Shaw received two major research awards from the United States National Endowment from the Humanities as well as fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Fulbright-Hayes Committee.

Srdjan Rajkovic, Graduate Student

Srdjan Rajkovic came to UCLA from Belgrade in 2001, and was near the completion of his dissertation in Byzantine history when he fell gravely ill.  He died on December 26, 2006.  He was a brilliant young scholar, excellent teacher and much beloved friend.


Eric Monkkonen, Professor

Eric MonkkonenProfessor Eric Monkkonen, Distinguished Professor of History and Public Policy, died May 30, 2005 after a long battle with cancer. Eric grew up in Duluth, Minnesota, earned his undergraduate (English), master’s (American Studies) and Ph.D. (History) degrees all from the University of Minnesota. During his career he conducted influential research on urban finance, local governments, police, crime and violence. He authored and edited several books and published more than 50 research articles. His book titles include, America Becomes Urban: The Development of U.S. Cities and Towns, 1780-1980, which colleagues describe as the definitive history of urbanization in the United States. His later work focused on the history of local public finance and on urban crime, culminating in another major book, Murder in New York City, is based on a statistical time series back through the early nineteenth century. The book examines some of the major social shifts considered to affect homicide. These include the effects of immigration, urban growth, the Civil War, changes in weapons, demographic changes, and Prohibition. His work with nineteenth century coroner’s inquests allows ethnographic reconstruction of fatal violence, showing how gender roles and weapons shaped fatal individual conflicts. Further, by comparing New York City to London and Liverpool, he sets the current receding wave of violence in an international context. His recent work focused on violence in Los Angeles, while a major posthumous essay, “Homicide: Explaining America’s Exceptionalism,” was featured in a forum in the February 2006 volume of The American Historical Review.

Eric, who began his academic career at UCLA in 1976, was recognized not only for his historical research but also for his methodological contributions. He received grants and fellowships from organizations including the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Justice, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Social Science Research Council.

Colleagues described Monkkonen not only as an outstanding scholar, but as a dedicated teacher. “Eric loved UCLA and actively contributed to its life. Not only was he an active citizen of the university, he was a dedicated and personable colleague and teacher,” said Sanford Jacoby, professor of management, history, and public policy.

In addition to his scholarly pursuits, Professor Monkkonen was involved in several organizations. He formerly served as president of the Urban History Association, Social Science History Association, and was a member of the National Consortium for Violence Research. He is survived by his wife, Judy, and sons Pentti and Paavo.
The Eric Monkkonen Fund for the Support of U.S. History has been established. Contributions may be sent to Edward A. Alpers, UCLA Department of History, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1437, (Please make checks payable to UCLA Foundation - Monkkonen Fund.)

The Eric Monkkonen Fund for the Support of U.S. History has been established. Contributions may be sent to Edward A. Alpers, UCLA Department of History, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1437, (Please make checks payable to UCLA Foundation - Monkkonen Fund.)