How To Be a Good Historian


As a postdoc fellow last year at GMU, and a young historian just entering the field, I am deeply moved by all the stories and comments here, but they do not surprise me. I had already been deeply moved by Roy last year at GMU.

I was a greenhorn in the department, just there for a year, and Roy took the time to meet with me about once a month, despite not only his busy schedule but the treatments for his illness. He was engaged, witty, thoughtful, and supportive. We bonded over being both Queens and Columbia boys, though we laughed at our different perspectives across the generations. And we had wonderful discussions about the state of American cultural history, the job market, book publishers, student culture at GMU, traffic in Northern Virginia, and digital history.

I left meetings with Roy (always always over coffee) feeling energized and hopeful about being a historian. And I learned by his example how to be a dedicated colleague.

I suspect that Roy's professional legacy will live on through these countless meetings he had with those around them: little bits of his tremendous energies are scattered about in all of us who were able to interact with him.

Even with my brief time getting to know Roy just a little, I am so very sad about this loss. He was a very special scholar and person. I send my condolences to those who knew Roy well and I just wanted to add one more voice to the chorus of this celebration of his career and life.


Michael Kramer, “How To Be a Good Historian,” Thanks, Roy, accessed April 18, 2021,

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