Former History Professor Dies

Former History Professor Dies

Robert Cruden, professor emeritus of history, passed away in August at age 94. According to longtime friend David Savage, professor emeritus of history, Cruden stayed in close touch with the department following his retirement in 1978.

At Lewis & Clark, says Savage, Cruden “was a pioneer in American social history.” He taught Historiography, a forerunner of the department’s Historical Materials course. Beginning in the early 1970s he was among the first historians in the country to teach a course in Black History, and he followed that class with Lewis & Clark’s first course in U.S. Women’s History. Cruden’s teaching was based on research and writing that resulted in two books, The Negro in Reconstruction (1969) and The American Civil War (1973).

“[Bob Cruden’s] vision of American history was inclusive,” Savage wrote in a memorial message. “He believed that [the nation’s] story could no longer chronicle only the deeds of the nation’s elite. So deep was that conviction that in retirement he wrote and published one of the first truly comprehensive social histories of the United States, Many and One: A Social History of the United States (1980). We are better students of history because of the pioneering work of Robert Cruden.”

Cruden earned his doctorate from Western Reserve University. He is survived by his wife, Janet; son, Robert William; daughter, Janet; and four granddaughters, Lynn Christensen, Wendy Christensen, Nathalie Cruden, and Lyda Cruden. 

Contributions may be made in Professor Cruden’s name to support scholarships at Lewis & Clark College.