University Mourns Death of Professor Rosenzweig

Posted: October 12, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Roy Rosenzweig
Roy Rosenzweig
Photo by Jon Goell

Roy Rosenzweig, a historian and pioneer of digital technology and new media, died from cancer on Oct. 11. He joined the Mason faculty in 1981.

Rosenzweig was the Mark and Barbara Fried Chair and director of the Center for History and New Media (CHNM), which he founded in 1994. CHNM has been at the forefront of efforts to use new media and digital technology to promote an inclusive and democratic understanding of the past while reaching new and diverse audiences

Just a few weeks ago, Rosenzweig was named as one of the Mason professors to lead CHNM in creating an online National History Education Clearinghouse. The online project will help K-12 history teachers become more effective educators and show their students why history is relevant to their daily lives.

“Roy was obviously one of the most distinguished faculty. He was truly an imaginative historian, from his first book that I still use to the pioneering work he did on the Center for History and New Media. He will be greatly missed personally and professionally, but we will be building on his accomplishments for a long time to come,” says Provost Peter Stearns.

Rosenzweig was involved in a number of different digital history projects, including web sites on U.S. history, historical thinking, the French Revolution, the history of science and technology, world history and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Earlier this year, Rosenzweig received the Distinguished Service Award from the Organization of American Historians in recognition of his contributions to significantly enriching the understanding and appreciation of American history.

Rosenzweig was a graduate of Columbia College and studied at St. John’s College of Cambridge, England before receiving his PhD from Harvard University. Before coming to Mason, he was an assistant professor of history and humanities at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, and a Mellon postdoctoral fellow in the Center for the Humanities at Wesleyan University in Connecticut.

In 2005, Rosenzweig’s web-based project, “History Matters,” earned him and the CHNM the James Harvey Prize of the American Historical Association. In 2003, he was awarded the second Richard W. Lyman Award for his work with CHNM, particularly the “History Matters” project and the September 11 Digital Archive.

The $25,000 prize recognized scholarly achievement of unusual merit and impact and innovative use of information technology in humanistic scholarship and teaching. These projects are attempts to make new and rare historical documents free and accessible to anyone and explore how technology can be used to enhance the study of history.

In 1999, Rosenzweig was awarded the Outstanding Faculty Award, the commonwealth’s highest honor for faculty at public and private colleges and universities in Virginia.

He was the coauthor of numerous books, including “The Park and the People: A History of Central Park,” which won the 1993 Historic Preservation Book Award and the 1993 Urban History Association Prize for Best Book on North American Urban History. He also co-wrote “The Presence of the Past: Popular Uses of History in American Life,” which has won prizes from the Center for Historic Preservation and the American Association for State and Local History.

Rosenzweig was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and lectured as a Fulbright professor. He also served as vice president for research of the American Historical Association.

Information on memorial services will be announced in the Gazette and E-Files as soon as it become available.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Rosenzweig’s memory may be made to the Center for History and New Media (CHNM). Make checks payable to the George Mason University Foundation, 4400 University Drive, MS 1A3, Fairfax, VA 22030. Please note that your gift is for the CHNM.

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