Dr. Brown

Dr. Ira Brown

1922 - 2012

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Obituary of Dr. Ira Brown

Ira. V. Brown, 90, of State College, died Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012 at Foxdale Village. Born near Charlottesville, VA, a short distance from Monticello, on August 14, 1922, he was the son of Herman and Malinda Stratton Brown. The family moved to Arlington, VA, in 1935. There Ira completed his high school studies in 1937 at the age of fourteen. He was awarded a four-year tuition scholarship by The George Washington University, where he majored in History. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in his junior year. In his senior year he was editor of the student newspaper. He earned his A.B. degree in 1941. He earned an M.A. degree at the University of Virginia in 1942. In the summer of that year he was employed at the National Archives. In the fall he enrolled at Harvard University for doctoral work with Professor Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr. After a short stint in the Army, he returned to Harvard and completed requirements for a Ph.D. degree in History in 1946. His dissertation, "Lyman Abbott, Christian Evolutionist," won the Brewer Prize of the American Society of Church History for 1949 and was published by the Harvard University Press in 1953. In 1945 he began his teaching career at the Phillips Exeter Academy. The following year he taught at Mary Baldwin College. In 1947 he joined the History staff at Penn State, where he remained the next forty years. He taught thousands of students in the survey course on American History. He gave advanced work in Science and Cultural History and the Formative Period (1776-1828). He directed the undergraduate honors program in History, seventeen doctoral dissertations, and supervised thirty-five master's essays. At the same time he continued his research and writing. He edited Joseph Priestly: Selections from His Writings, published by the Penn State Press in 1962. He wrote two monographs for the Pennsylvania Historical Association: Pennsylvania Reformers: from Penn to Pinchot (1966) and The Negro in Pennsylvania History (1970). He published eighteen scholarly articles dealing with such diverse subjects as evolution and religion, Biblical criticism, millennialism, Unitarianism, abolitionism, freedmen's aid, Radical Reconstruction, civil rights, and feminism. He wrote numerous book reviews for professional journals. He presented a number of papers at annual meetings of the Pennsylvania Historical Association and served several terms on its council. He retired with emeritus rank in 1987. In retirement he researched and wrote a biography of Mary Grew (1813-1896), a Philadelphia abolitionist and feminist, published by the Susquehanna University Press in 1991. He also wrote his reminiscences, "A Life in History," and compiled a collection of his essays on abolitionism and civil rights in Pennsylvania, 1688-1887, under the title, "Proclaim Liberty!" Both of these works were circulated privately. He was predeceased by his wife, Helen Leila Maul, whom he married in 1955. She was employed by the Penn State Libraries for many years. They moved to Foxdale Village in 1990. Surviving are one son, Robert V. Brown and his wife April, of Perkasie; two grandsons, Andrew R. Brown and his wife, Jessica, of Horsham, and Matthew D. Brown, of Montclair, NJ. Also surviving is a nephew, Daniel K. Lewis, of Atlanta, GA, and two nieces, Virginia L. Lewis of Aberdeen, SD, and Nancy Ballew and her husband Robert, of Atlanta. A memorial gathering will be held in the auditorium of Foxdale Village in State College on Friday, October 5, 2012 at 2 p.m. with a social hour immediately following. Burial will be private. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Foxdale Village Community Fund, 500 E. Marylyn Avenue, State College, PA, 16801. Arrangements by Koch Funeral Home, State College. Online condolences at www.kochfuneralhome.com.
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