Eminent historian Bernard Bailyn dies at 97

Tuesday, August 11, 2020 - 16:10 in Paleontology & Archaeology

Eminent historian and Harvard Professor Bernard Bailyn, who died Aug. 7 at 97 in his home in Belmont from heart failure, was a man of many words, writing and editing more than 20 books on early American and Atlantic history. But among students and colleagues, the Adams University Professor Emeritus and James Duncan Phillips Professor of Early American History Emeritus was famous for two: “So what?” This question was central to Bailyn’s approach to studying history, said secretary of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Susan Lively, who took his infamous and exhilarating graduate seminar as a student in the 1990s. “As devastating at those two words were, they were an incredibly effective teaching tool. Any student who witnessed them being used even once internalized their point and worked diligently to make sure they were never applied to them,” said Lively, who earned a Ph.D. in history in 1997 and was the last...

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