Obituaries

The Journal of Southern History, November 2006 | Go to article overview

Obituaries


Thomas B. Alexander, professor emeritus at the University of Missouri-Columbia, died in Columbia, Missouri, on July 3, 2006. A former president of the Southern Historical Association, Alexander was an inspiring teacher, an eminent scholar, and a humane and caring human being.

Born in Nashville, Tennessee, on July 23, 1918, Alexander earned his bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees from Vanderbilt University. During World War II, from 1943 to 1946, he served in the U.S. Navy. After separation from the Navy, Alexander accepted a teaching position at Clemson College. He left Clemson in 1949 to become a professor and chair of the division of social sciences at Georgia Southern College. In 1957 he began a twelve-year tenure at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Alexander joined the history faculty at the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1969, where he introduced both students and departmental faculty to the "quantification approaches to the study of history."

Alexander was one of those rare individuals who was at the same time the students' professor and scholars' scholar. Members of the profession of all shades of opinion turned to him for leadership. This was attested to by his election to the presidency of both the Southern Historical Association (1980) and the Social Science History Association.

In his scholarship, Alexander combined the best qualities of the social scientist and the humanist. His writings on the era of the Civil War and Reconstruction are standard works in these fields. The work he coauthored with Richard E. Beringer, The Anatomy of the Confederate Congress: A Study of the Influences of Member Characteristics on Legislative Voting Behavior, 1861-1865 (Nashville, 1972), received the Charles S. Sydnor Award from the SHA as the most distinguished book on southern history published during the biennium 1972-1973. His first book, Political Reconstruction in Tennessee (Nashville, 1950), was reprinted in 1968, and he wrote two additional book-length studies, Thomas A. R. Nelson of East Tennessee (Nashville, 1956) and Sectional Stress and Party Strength: A Study of Roll-Call Patterns in the United States House of Representatives, 1836-1860 (Nashville, 1967). Alexander's publications also included four sections of books and over twenty articles in scholarly journals.

Alexander was an active participant in professional organizations and an enthusiastic contributor in service to the institutions that employed him. He was active in state historical societies in four states and served on committees, on editorial boards, and as a program participant for the Organization of Amerian Historians, the American Historical Association, the Southern Historical Association, and the Social Science History Association.

The University of Missouri-Columbia in recognition of this service to the University and to the profession named him the Frederick A. Middlebush Professor in History from 1979 to 1982 and selected him for the Byler Distinguished Professor Award in 1985. During his career, Alexander received fellowships and awards from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, and the Institute of Southern History. Alexander retired at the end of the 1987-1988 academic year. He is survived by his wife of sixty-four years, Elise Alexander, three daughters, Wynne Guy, Elaine Gates, and Carol Gajek, and three grandchildren. [ARVARH E. STRICKLAND, University of Missouri-Columbia]

Malcolm LeBaron Call, who died March 22, 2006, at his home in Portland, Maine, was one of the most extraordinary and passionate university press editors of our time, an attentive and voracious reader of manuscripts who was utterly dedicated to every single book he put under contract. Malcolm was best known as a history editor--and of southern history in particular--but he could be just as much of an enthusiast for a work of folklore or politics, Roman law or literary biography, fiction or memoir. …

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