Meyer Remembered for Shaping Curriculum in History Department

Professor Emeritus of History Donald Meyer passed away on May 27 at the age of 94.

Meyer received his BA from the University of Chicago in 1947 after taking a three-year hiatus to serve in the United States Army (1943–1946), and then went on to complete his MA and PhD from Harvard University. He taught at Harvard for two years and UCLA for twelve years before arriving at Wesleyan in 1967.

Meyer was a social and intellectual historian who published three books and numerous articles over a long and productive career. According to colleague Nat Greene, “He was an expert in offering a vigorous challenge to prevailing views, especially about sectors of our society that figured much too little in our history.” He also made some lasting impressions on Wesleyan. His colleague Dick Buel said, “He was one of the founding organizers of Wesleyan’s American studies program and took a leading role in shaping the curriculum and personnel of the history department between the mid-1960s and his retirement in 1991.” The Meyer Prize was established in 1991 in his honor and has been awarded annually by the Department of History to deserving history majors for honors theses in American history.

Meyer is survived by his wife, Jean; his sister, Barbara Backstrom; and by his children and their spouses and partners—Rebecca Berwick; Sarah Berwick and Claude Dohrn; Jeffrey Berwick and Viv Kwok; Rachel Berwick and Warren Johnsen; and William and Kate Meyer—and his five grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made in Professor Meyer’s name to the Meyer Prize and sent to the care of Marcy Herlihy, University Relations, 318 High Street, Middletown, CT 06459.