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Updated 10:00 AM September 8, 2008
 

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Obituary
Bradford Perkins

Bradford Perkins, emeritus professor of history, died June 29 at the age of 83.

Perkins was born March 6, 1925 in Rochester, N.Y., the son of Dexter and Wilma Lord Perkins. Following combat service in the European theater during World War II he completed his Bachelor of Arts degree at Harvard in 1947. While there he met and married Nancy Tucker Perkins; they remained married until her death in 1993.
(Photo courtesy Martha Nash Perkins)

Perkins received his doctorate in history, also from Harvard, in 1952. Subsequently, he taught at the University of California, Los Angeles, before joining the Department of History at U-M in 1962. During his career at the University, he twice served as department chairman and served on many department, college and university committees. Perkins was the author of five books and numerous other publications. One of his books, "Castlereagh and Adams: England and the United States, 1812- 1823," earned a Bancroft Prize, the premier award in American history, in 1965.

During his career, Perkins received a number of honors in addition to the Bancroft Prize. He was awarded fellowships by the Social Science Research Council, the Guggenheim Foundation and the Charles Warren Center at Harvard. He delivered the Commonwealth Fund Lectures at University College, London, in 1965 and the Albert Shaw Lectures at Johns Hopkins in 1979. In recognition of his achievements, he was elected to membership in the Society of American Historians, the Massachusetts Historical Society and the American Antiquarian Society.

In 1986 he received a Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award from the University. The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations elected him president in 1974 and awarded him the Norman and Laura Graebner Career Achievement Award in 1992. Perkins served on leading committees of the American Historical Association, the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and the Organization of American Historians. For 10 years ending in 1994 he was a member of the Department of State Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation. In this capacity he struggled with substantial but by no means complete success to improve scholarly access to the documentary record of recent American foreign policy.

Perkins is survived by his sons Dexter of Grand Forks, N.D., and Matthew of Seattle; daughter Martha Nash Perkins of Seattle; and grandsons George, Douglas and Tobias. His youngest son James Bradford Perkins died in 1988.

A memorial service is planned 3-5 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Clements Library. Charitable donations may be made in his name to the Superior Land Conservancy, where he and Nancy donated Springhill Preserve many years ago.


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