Winthrop Jordan: UM Mourns Death of Renowned Historian

Historians in the News

OXFORD, Miss. Winthrop Jordan, 75, professor emeritus of
history and African-American studies at the University of
Mississippi, died at his home Friday (Feb. 23) after a long
illness. He was a Quaker and a member of the Oxford Friends

Jordan won four national prizes in 1968-69 for his book
"White Over Black: American Attitudes Towards the Negro,
1550-1812," including the Society of American Historians'
Parkman Prize, Columbia University's Bancroft Prize, Phi
Beta Kappa's Ralph Waldo Emerson Award and the National
Book Award for History and Biography.

As part of its 50th anniversary, American Heritage magazine
ranked "White Over Black" as the second-best book of all
time in African American history, second only to W.E.B.
DuBois' "Souls of the Black Folk."

"This book helped lead a revolution in the understanding of
how slavery became an accepted part of early American
life," said Robert Haws, who chaired the university's
history department from 1986 to 2007. "It forever changed
our understanding of the roots of racism in the United

Jordan received several awards, including another Bancroft
Prize, for his "Tumult and Silence at Second Creek: An
Inquiry Into a Civil War Slave Conspiracy" (1993).

He was slated to receive the B.L.C. Wailes Award from the
Mississippi Historical Society March 3 in Jackson.

"Through the years, no faculty person has achieved greater
distinction at Ole Miss than Winthrop Jordan," said
Chancellor Robert Khayat. "Historians across the world are
aware of his work, his colleagues respected him without
reservation and he was much admired by his students.
Although we have lost him, his legacy lives on."

Born in 1931 in Worcester, Mass., Jordan received his
bachelor's degree in social relations from Harvard College
in 1953, master's degree in history from Clark University
in 1957 and doctoral degree in history from Brown
University in 1960.

Jordan began teaching in 1955 as a history instructor at
Phillips Exeter Academy before joining the faculty at the
University of California-Berkeley, where he served from
1963 to 1982. He also served as associate dean for minority
group affairs in the UC-Berkeley graduate school.

Jordan joined the UM faculty in 1982. He became the first
holder of the William F. Winter Professorship of History in
1993 and retired in 2003.

Haws called Jordan "the most distinguished faculty member
ever" in the university's history department.

"Before he had turned 40, his scholarship had defined the
entire field of general race relations and set the
scholarly agenda for the study of race in American history
for two generations of scholars," Haws said

Jordan's numerous awards include fellowships from the
Institute of Early American History and Culture, Guggenheim
Foundation, Social Science Research Council and the Center
for the Advanced Study of the Behavioral Sciences. He also
received a Distinguished Alumnus Citation from Brown

Jordan is survived by his wife, Cora; three sons, Joshua
Jordan of Davis, Calif., Mott Jordan of Santa Cruz, Calif.,
and Eliot Jordan of Berkeley, Calif.; three step-children;
his former wife, Phyllis Jordan of Berkeley, Calif.; five
grandchildren and five step-grandchildren.

Hodges Funeral Home in Oxford is handling arrangements. A
campus memorial is being planned.

Visit Ole Miss on the World Wide Web at www.olemiss.edu.

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