John Simon: Tireless Editor of Grant’s Papers, Dies at 75

Historians in the News

John Y. Simon, a Civil War scholar whose mammoth effort in editing of the papers of Ulysses S. Grant created a new standard for the organization of historical documents, died on Tuesday in Carbondale, Ill. He was 75.

His wife of 51 years, Harriet Simon, confirmed his death.

For 34 years, Mr. Simon was on the history faculty of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, teaching courses on the Civil War, Reconstruction and the history of Illinois. But his true vocation was the Grant papers project, comprising thousands of documents and annotations, which he began in 1962 and which was nearing completion at his death. Mr. Simon had published 28 volumes, with Nos. 29 and 30 scheduled for release next year by Southern Illinois University Press; a supplemental volume and an annotated edition of Grant’s memoirs were to follow.

The volumes helped cement Grant’s place as a literary memoirist and not just a war diarist. But perhaps more important, said Harold Holzer, an Abraham Lincoln scholar and a senior vice president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, they changed the nature of documentary editing, bringing the perspective of a biographer rather than a cataloger to the enterprise.
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Brooks D. Simpson - 7/11/2008

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which calls Holzer's claims into question.