Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Obit: Kenneth M. Stampp, 96

From the Washington Post:

"KENNETH M. STAMPP, 96: Celebrated Historian Altered Understanding of Slavery"
Adam Bernstein
Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Kenneth M. Stampp, 96, a historian who helped transform the study of slavery in the United States by exposing plantation owners as practical businessmen, not romantics defending a noble heritage, died of heart ailments July 10 at a hospital in Oakland, Calif. He had vascular dementia.

His death was confirmed by the University of California at Berkeley, where he taught from 1946 until retiring in 1983.

Dr. Stampp denied having the burgeoning civil rights movement in mind when he researched and wrote The Peculiar Institution (1956), which powerfully challenged the way slavery was presented in history texts. But the impact of the book was undeniably linked to the changing era in which it appeared.

Leon Litwack, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian who studied under Dr. Stampp and called him "one of the most important historians" of his generation, said that as late as t
he 1940s, many eminent historians of the South depicted slavery as a largely benign system. >>>

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