Update from Charles Le Guin

Charles Le Guin, Ph.D. 1956, has written from Portland, Oregon. He and Thomas E. Mullen (Ph.D. 1959) have remained good friends. Dr. Le Guin describes his studies: “I came to Emory to pursue my PhD in 1950 and Joseph Mathews undertook to guide me to my degree: it took a while—a Fulbright and some teaching—before that was accomplished. I believe I was the sixth History Ph.D. at Emory and the first in European History, and I think I am now the oldest living Emory History PhD. (I think Tom Mullen agrees with this.)”  The year Dr. Le Guin finished his degree on the French Revolution, Dr. Mathews was abroad on a Fulbright at Oxford, and so Russell Major took over his training.  Dr. Le Guin recounts, “I had had courses from him and he was in Paris when I was there on my Fulbright: indeed, he and Blair were at my wedding there.”  (Charles and his wife Ursula still have the samovar and tea cups that the Majors gave them as wedding presents.)

He remembers that there were about three dozen graduate students when he was at Emory.  He has looked over the department’s website. “Among the things that amazes me most,” he writes, “is the size of the department: from 1950-56, the period when I was doing my degree, I can recall only ten faculty: Mathews, Major, Posey (shared with Agnes Scott as I recall), Duncan, Rabun, Cuttino, Benjamin, McLean, Wiley, and Young.  I think Harvey Young outlived them all – I know, much as I admired the others, he was one of the sweetest men I ever knew, the sort of professor I would most like to have been.” He compared the university’s present graduate stipends with the support available when he was at Emory:  “In 1950 I had a scholarship of $750 dollars a term, which was immediately returned to cover my tuition.  I can imagine how that wouldn’t be a drop in the bucket these days.”

Dr. Le Guin moved West in 1956 and to Portland State University in 1959, where he taught the French Revolution along with many other topics, ranging from the history of Australia and New Zealand to Canada.  He explains, “It was a happy place for me to be, being a part of the development of a fledgling college of 2500 students which has grown into a university with 30,000 students in a remarkably short time: PSU has just had the good sense to hire a new College of Liberal Arts and Sciences dean who was an Emory undergraduate (Susan Beatty, a geographer).  I retired in 1995, finished a book with two colleagues (In The Balance: Themes in Global History, 1998), and have since devoted myself mainly to reading any and everything and gardening.  One of my great pleasures is seeing Tom Mullen in summers when he comes to Oregon to visit his son and grandchildren.  It is a sort of grand two person Emory History reunion way out here on the Upper Left Edge.”

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