Great Historians

David Kennedy: I would say my own mentors, particularly David Potter. I was also blessed with some great scholars who were my mentors when I was a graduate student. Some of them are still alive – John Morton Blum in particular was a great inspiration and mentor to me at graduate school at Yale. _______ Woodward, by most people’s acknowledgement – the dean of American historians of his generation, a great historian of the South and particularly the Jim Crow system – was another great inspiration to me. And in fact, Woodward had . . . He taught me something that I’ve tried to pass on to my students. Woodward believed that among the glories of history as an academic discipline was its capacity to speak to the general educated public, and it’s refusal to develop its own hermetically sealed jargon that was understandable only to other practitioners who had been baptized into the particular discourse. He dug that into us, that it was our responsibility to speak more broadly to the society at large. And that’s something that I really took to heart from him. Recorded on: 7/4/07

 

Blum, Woodward, Potter.

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