Friday, August 3, 2007

Phillip Shaw Paludan

This is tough. I just found out that Phillip Shaw Paludan has passed away.

He was one of the foremost Lincoln scholars in the country. A People’s Contest is an absolutely masterful study of the war’s impact on the North and his book on Lincoln’s Presidency is considered a standard text. Paludan was a winner of the most prestigious award in the field, the Lincoln Prize.

Professor Paludan meant a lot to me. He was my mentor. I was one of his graduate students at the University of Illinois in Springfield.

What can I say? If it weren’t for Professor Paludan, I don’t think I would be doing what I’m doing today.

He was so smart! Read one of his books or articles and you’ll see what I mean. He was like that in class, at conferences, and in conversation. He had the most analytical mind of anyone I’ve ever met. He had statistics and anecdotes at his command. It was like he thought about things on an entirely different level. He pushed himself and always encouraged his students to get to that next level.

I can’t tell you how many times I went into his office and just talked with him. He always made me feel welcome, which is a rarity among academics. But more than that, he seemed like he cared about my plans for the future. I talked with him about entering a Ph.D. program and he encouraged me to do it.

I emailed him a copy of the first seminar paper I wrote in Carbondale. When I went home for Christmas break, I met him on campus. He read the paper, gave me such insightful comments, and then we spent the next hour or so just talking about things. I never will forget how that conversation ended.

“I’m a fan of your work,” he said.

That blew me away! A fan of my work?

He was the best. I will miss him, but I won’t forget him.

1 comment:

nancy said...

I was editing footage tonight from an interview with Dr. Paludan, one of many interviews I have conducted over the past three years in nearly thirty states. I met Dr. Paludan in the elevator at the UIS campus. He was a warm and kind man.

I am so shocked to find that he has passed. What a wonderful man. He didn't even know me--this Oregon gal---yet welcomed me into his office and sat down for a chat about Abraham Lincoln.