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Lewis C. Perry, Ph.D.: 1938-2022

by Joe Barker on 01/13/2022

Lewis C. Perry, Ph.D., professor emeritus of history, died Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022. He was 83.

Perry was born Nov. 21, 1938. Perry received a B.A. from Oberlin College in 1960 and an M.S. and a Ph.D. from Cornell University in 1964 and 1967, respectively. 

He began his academic career in the history department at the State University of New York, Buffalo in 1966 and stayed there until 1978.

From there, he went on to Indiana University Bloomington in the College of Arts and Sciences in 1978 as professor of history and editor of the Journal of American History. He joined the Graduate School faculty at IU in 1978, but left in 1984 to accept the Andrew Jackson Chair in American History at Vanderbilt University. 

Perry left Vanderbilt in 1999 and joined the faculty at Saint Louis University.

“Lew Perry was a highly esteemed and widely published scholar of American intellectual history who went out of his way to guide and support younger faculty and graduate students,” said Hal Parker, Ph.D., professor of history at Saint Louis University. “Lew held to firm principles and always worked for the common good. He was a treasured colleague and teacher.”

At SLU, he co-held the John Francis Bannon S.J. Chair in the History Department with his wife, the late Elisabeth Perry, Ph.D. The two were married on Thanksgiving Day in 1970. 

Perry retired from SLU at the end of the 2008 spring semester. 

"Lew Perry was a leader in American History and the study of intellectual history in America more particularly,” said Thomas J. Finan, Ph.D., chair of the department of history. “As the Bannon Chair in the Department of History he was a huge influence on the lives of colleagues and those students that he mentored at the graduate and undergraduate programs at Saint Louis University."

Perry was a member of the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians and had written numerous books, including Civil Disobedience: An American Tradition.