William Wright Abbot III Obituary

Historians in the News

William Wright Abbot III of Charlottesville, Virginia, died peacefully in his sleep on Monday, August 31, 2009, at the age of 87.

Professor Abbot was born in Louisville, Georgia, on May 20, 1922, the son William Wright Abbot Jr. and Lillian Carswell Abbot.

He graduated from Louisville Academy, a public high school, in 1939 and attended Davidson College for two years. In 1941 he transferred to the University of Georgia, where he was awarded the baccalaureate degree upon his entering the United States Navy in 1943.

During World War II, Mr. Abbot served in small craft in the Pacific Ocean and in the Mediterranean and Adriatic seas. He would later quip that he felt he reached the pinnacle of his own personal authority at the age of 22 when, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, he was made Captain of PC 504, a 110-foot submarine chaser.

Mr. Abbot's career as a teacher spanned nearly 50 years. It began when he was assigned to teach celestial navigation to young naval cadets at Duke University in the spring of 1946. That fall, he returned to his hometown to teach science and English grammar at his old high school.

Under the G.I. bill, Mr. Abbot went on to study history at Duke University, where he earned his masters and doctorate degrees. After completing his Ph.D. in 1953, he was hired as an assistant professor of history by the College of William and Mary...

... Among historians, Professor Abbot was best known as an editor. His association with The William and Mary Quarterly, the magazine of early American History, began in 1953 and he was its editor from 1961 until 1966. He also edited The Journal of Southern History in 1960 and 1961. During the latter years of his career at the University of Virginia, he devoted most of his efforts to editing The Papers of George Washington, serving as chief editor from 1977 until 1992.
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