David Weber, Vice President of the Professional Division, Dies at 69

Debbie Ann Doyle, October 2010

David WeberDavid J. Weber, historian of the Borderlands, the American West, and Latin America and vice-president of the American Historical Association’s Professional Division, died on Friday, August 20, after a long struggle with multiple myeloma.

Weber was the Robert and Nancy Dedman Professor of History and founding director of the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. He received his BS from the State University of New York at Fredonia and his MA and PhD from the University of New Mexico. In recognition of his work, he received the Real Orden de Isabel la Católica–the Spanish equivalent of a knighthood–from Juan Carlos, the King of Spain, and the Orden Mexicana del Águila Azteca, (the Order of the Aztec Eagle), the highest award the Mexican government bestows on foreign nationals. His book Bárbaros: Spaniards and Their Savages in the Age of Enlightenment (Yale University Press) received the AHA’s John Edwin Fagg prize in 2006. He was the recipient of numerous other recognitions for his scholarship and teaching.

A dedicated volunteer and good citizen of the profession, Weber served as vice president of the AHA’s Professional Division (beginning in 2008), and represented the division on the Task Force on Disability and the LGBTQ Historians Task Force. He was active in several other associations and had been an ex officio member of the board of the National History Center, president of the Western History Association, a member of the executive board of the Organization of American Historians, and a member of the general committee of the Conference on Latin American History. He served on numerous editorial boards and prize committees.

A session dedicated to the impact of his work has been scheduled for the AHA annual meeting in Boston. Organized by the Borderlands and Frontiers Studies Committee of the Conference on Latin American History, the session is entitled “David J. Weber and the Borderlands: Past, Present, and Future.” A tribute session will also be held at the Western Historical Association’s annual meeting in Lake Tahoe in October.

Though it sounds like a cliché, David can only be described as a truly nice man. His deep knowledge, and dedication to scholarship, teaching, and the future of the profession will be sorely missed. Plans for a memorial service are pending. His family has suggested that memorial contributions may be sent to the Clements Center for Southwest Studies or the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation. Perspectives on History will carry an In Memoriam essay on David Weber in a future issue.

Professional Division member Trudy Huskamp Peterson (consulting archivist) has been appointed by the AHA Council to fill out the remainder of David Weber’s term as vice president of the Division (until January 2011), and Iris Berger, vice president of the Research Division, will fill his position on the AHA’s Finance Committee.

The Borderlands and Frontiers Studies Committee of the Conference on Latin American History has joined with the AHA Council to organize a memorial session at the 125th Annual Meeting. Entitled “David J. Weber and the Borderlands: Past, Present, and Future,” the special session will be held Friday, January 7, 2011, 5:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m., in Room 207 of the Hynes Convention Center, Boston.

Debbie Ann Doyle works with the Professional Division and staffs the Task Force on Disability and the LGBTQ Historians Task Force. This article has been adapted from her August 23, 2010, post on the Association blog, AHA Today.