Paul K. Conkin
erle Eugene Curti was one of the most distinguished historians of the twentieth century. He lived for most of that century, dying at the age of nearly one hundred in 1997. He was the most influential pioneer in, if not the founder of, what are now three distinct fields of historical scholarship—intellectual, cultural, and social. He received almost all the honors available in his discipline. In three consecutive years (1952—1954) he served as president of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association, the American Historical Association, and the American Studies Association. He held chairs at Smith College, Teachers College of Columbia University, and the University of Wisconsin. In 1943, he won the Pulitzer Prize. He received numerous research grants, including a Guggenheim Fellowship when he was only thirty-two years old. He also spent two years abroad, teaching first in India and then in Japan. He was honored by membership in the American Academy of Arts and Science and the American Philosophical Society.
Above all, Curti became one of America's most prolific historians. For over half a century he worked at his task as a teacher and scholar, writing books and articles in many historical fields. He was interested in all aspects of the human past. He exemplified a single-minded commitment to the hard work and sometimes drudgery involved in telling the story of that past. Other historians surpassed Curti in eloquence, in striking insights, in controversial interpretations, in intensive analysis, and of course in the mastery of highly specialized topics, but no one contributed as much of high quality in as many areas of historical knowledge. He had an insatiable curiosity and thus the pioneer's zest for moving on, for scholarly homesteading on completely new territory. He was amazingly industrious. His eye was ever on the rail, his hand on the throttle, at work day after day, year after year, with the help of a hundred archives, the endless, apprecia