Historian Eugene Black dies at 85

Eugene C. Black

Professor Emeritus of History Eugene C. Black, a Europeanist in the department who played a critical role in building its national stature, died Oct. 18 at age 85.

Black’s research focused on modern European history, especially Britain, and its political and social institutions. In 2003, three years before he retired from the faculty, he published his last scholarly article, “The Diplomacy of Minority Rights, 1918-1930.”

Born in Boston, Black received his BA from the College of William and Mary in 1948 before enlisting in the U.S. Air Force as a pilot and serving in the Korean War. After the war, he returned to his home state to earn his MA and PhD at Harvard, graduating in 1958.

That year, Black joined Brandeis’ history department as an instructor, eventually becoming the Springer Professor of History in 1971. In 2012, the history department established two E.C. Black Prize internships for students majoring or minoring in history. The internships carry a stipend up to $1,000, enabling winners to conduct primary research in their chosen areas.

“Gene played a critical role in building the department into one of the strongest at the university and in the field, chiefly by raising the quality of new faculty,” says Gregory Freeze, the Victor and Gwendolyn Beinfield Professor of History. “His basic principle was that every new appointment should not be a mere replacement but must raise the stature and standards of the department.”

Devoted to Brandeis, Black served as the dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, as well as chairman, on multiple occasions, of the history department and the graduate program in comparative history. He retired in 2006 but continued to direct PhD dissertations, the most recent defense being held just last year.

Along with editing books and writing scholarly articles, Black authored three monographs, “The Association: British Extraparliamentary Political Organization, 1769-1793;” “Feminists, Liberalism, and Morality;” and “Social Politics of Anglo-Jewry, 1880-1920.”

“He was rightly very proud of what he accomplished during his many years as chair and senior Europeanist in the department,” says Freeze.

A funeral service is scheduled for Oct. 23 at 11 a.m. at Levine Chapels, 470 Harvard Street, Brookline, Mass. More details can be found at www.levinechapel.com.

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