Essays on Walter Prescott Webb and the Teaching of History

Essays on Walter Prescott Webb and the Teaching of History

Essays on Walter Prescott Webb and the Teaching of History

Essays on Walter Prescott Webb and the Teaching of History

Excerpt

I was a visiting professor at the University of Texas during the spring semester of 1963. One morning in early March, Professor Walter Prescott Webb came by, and together we went over to the Radio/Television Department studio to preview a lecture in the "American Civilization by the Interpreters" series that Webb was producing with funds from the Ford Foundation. Later that morning, he and Terrell, his wife, left for San Antonio.

I drove to Arlington to spend the weekend with my family and was at dinner when a colleague called to tell me the news. Professor Webb, on his way back to Austin, had been killed in a one-car accident twelve miles south of Austin on Interstate Highway 35. Terrell had been critically injured but survived. The date was March 8, 1963.

I wept unashamedly.

In the fall of 1948, I enrolled in the doctoral program at the University of Texas specifically to work with Webb. Our association quickly became more a friendship than a student-teacher relationship, and I have often thought that what brought us together in the beginning was Webb's curiosity about my childhood background and what it had been like growing up in a tough, blue-collar neighborhood of a big city. In any event, Webb, as teacher and friend, influenced my career more than any other person, and even in death has remained an intellectual and moral force in my life. His picture hangs in my study; one of my sons, Andrew Webb Wolfskill, is named for him; my first book is dedicated to him.

In physical appearance Webb was hardly impressive. He was of average height, lean and slightly stooped, and he walked as if following a furrow in a plowed field. His ruddy complexion and. bald head accentuated the watery blue eyes behind steel-rimmed.

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