Turning Point

Contributed By Marjorie McLellan


Note: Prodded by the Digital Campus broadcasts, I had finally set up a blog on wordpress when I learned of Roy's death. This was my first post.

Roy Rosenzweig, Mark and Barbara Fried Professor of History and New Media at George Mason University, was a mentor and generous friend to those at a distance as well as to his many colleagues, collaborators, and students at George Mason University. We were saddened to hear of his death this past week.

I have long counted myself lucky to have invited Roy to come to Miami University almost a decade ago. I had read his work in labor history and followed the development of the American Social History Project and Center for History and New Media initiatives. Teaching at Miami University’s regional campus in Middletown, Ohio, I worked with area teachers and coordinated the local National History Day competition. With generous support from both the Ohio Humanities Council and Miami University, I was able to invite Roy through the OAH Distinguished Lectureship Program, to spend two days in Ohio. He presented a workshop and discussion for local social studies teachers in Middletown and a lecture on history and new media on the Oxford campus. My great good fortune was to spend the two days with Roy, introducing him to colleagues, learning about the Center for History and New Media initiatives, discussing his book, with David Thelen, The Presence of the Past: Popular Uses of History in American Life, and talking over my own research and interests in digital media projects. We rambled around the Oxford campus, stopping to talk with faculty at Miami’s former College of Interdisciplinary Studies and then having lunch with Juan Gilbert, a professor in computer sciences who is now at Auburn University. I felt a bit like an outsider looking in on their conversation but I enjoyed every minute. Roy was an exciting speaker and a generous listener and mentor.

Following his visit, Randy Bass came to the Middletown campus and the conversations that I had with both Roy and Randy inspired much of my subsequent work both directing a graduate program in public history at Wright State University and collaborating with educators on TAH grants. They helped me to see both my profession and the scholarship of history in a new way.

Roy was a pioneer; he embraced the enduring value of the paperback book while moving beyond the narrower confines of print scholarship. And Roy always carried others forward with him. The ubiquitous red Z for Zotero in Firefox will remind many of us of Roy’s impact, through the Center for History and New Media, on our work. This June, not knowing that Roy was ill, I asked him to meet with my husband Gary Greenberg about a public television project. Once again, he gave generously of his time and his insights. Roy Rosenzweig has cast a wide net through his influential writing and the enduring value of the Center for History and New Media resources as well as through all of the colleagues he has listened to and inspired.