Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Obituaries: Joseph Henry Dahmus

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Obituaries: Joseph Henry Dahmus

Article excerpt

Joseph Henry Dahmus was born on March 22,1909, in St. Maurice, Indiana, and died at his home in State College, Pennsylvania, on March 7, 2005. As a young man he studied for the priesthood and to that end attended the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio. He received his B.A. degree in philosophy from the Josephinum in 1930. After leaving the seminary, he graduated from Saint Louis University in 1932 with an M.A. degree in classics and in 1938 earned a Ph.D. degree in history from the University of Illinois. In 1940 he married Mildred Kling, who survives him. He taught at the College of Mount St. Vincent in New York City from 1939 to 1943, at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, from 1943 to 1945, and at St. John's University in Jamaica, New York, from 1946 to 1947. In the fall of 1947 he began teaching at Pennsylvania State University, where he continued to teach until his retirement in 1974.

Professor Dahmus was a prolific scholar. Three areas particularly stand out in his vita: his scholarly work on John Wyclif and his contemporaries, his textbook, and his series of works on the Middle Ages designed for a general audience, especially his collection of "sevens." In the first category are the following:"Further Evidence for the Spelling'Wyctyf"'Speculum, 16 (1941), 224-225;"Did Wyclyf Recant?" Catholic Historical Review, 29 (1943), 155-158; "Wyclif Was a Negligent Pluralist," Speculum, 28 (1953), 378-381; "Richard II and the Church," Catholic Historical Review, 39 (1954), 408-433; "John Wyclif and the English Government," Speculum, 35 (I960), 51-68; The Metropolitan Visitations of William Courtenay (Illinois, 1950); The Prosecution of John Wyclyf (Yale University Press, 1952; reprinted as an Archon Book, 1970); William Courtenay, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1381-1396 (Pennsylvania State University Press, 1966).

In the second category is his textbook, A History of Medieval Civilization (Odyssey, 1964), which contains primary documents at the end of each chapter, a bit of a novelty at that time. Professor Dahmus was an enthusiastic proponent of putting primary sources in the hands of students. One of his early articles, "A Godsend to Ancient and Medieval History," Social Studies, 47 (1956), 224-228, points out the opportunity provided to college instructors by the advent of inexpensive paperback copies of ancient and medieval classics.

He strove to make the Middle Ages better known to the general public by providing popular yet scholarly accounts of the Middle Ages. …

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