Herbert Ellison, 1929-2012
Herbert Ellison

UW History Professor Herbert Ellison, ’51, an expert on Soviet and post-Soviet affairs and cherished mentor to hundreds of students, died Oct. 9 at age 83.

He taught at the UW for 34 years and is the namesake of the Ellison Center for Russia, East European and Central Asian Studies in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies. Ellison first became interested in Russian studies during his undergraduate years at the UW.

Perhaps one student’s comment speaks for all: “I was lucky enough to be one of the undergraduates to take a class from Professor Ellison. His lectures were always interesting, and informative. His knowledge, and his connections to nearly everyone who ‘mattered’ in the field were jaw-dropping. Most impressively, despite his importance in his field, he always had time for you, and was gentle in his manner and patient even with those who tried the patience of everyone in the class.”—Julie Garner

One Response to Herbert Ellison, 1929-2012

  1. Frederick D. Barlow says:

    I was a student of Dr Ellison at the University of Oklahoma during the 1959 and 1960 years. He was at that time just 29 or thirty, and he and Mrs. Ellison and young daughter were just recently back from London. I had both of his courses on European History, both of which are still most memorable. Most particularly I remember his examinations. They were a continuation of the teaching process, and required one to draw on all the factual and temporal information presented and studied; but more importantly to formulate ones personal understanding of those events. He introduced us all to a world replete with a new vocabulary, and treated all his students with the highest respect. At the same time, that beautiful touch of lightness and wit kept everyone charmed.
    Dr. Ellison was also a regular attendant of the evening seminars in the History of Science held by Dr. Duane Roller in the conference room at the DeGolyer Collection within the University Library. He was the first person in my life that had a truly oencyclopaedic mind.
    One last note. One day over coffee he said to me: “Dave, Alberta and I do love Norman [Oklahoma] but I’m afraid we’ll need to move. My young daughter [who was about four at the time] skinned her knee. I was bandaging it, and after the tears subsided I asked how she had done it. She replied “Ah fayel down.” “Two syllables. tch, tch.” To those of you who knew him, He had the most beautiful speaking voice. I can still hear it. It was he who I emulated as I began classroom speaking myself.
    Certainly he was one of the five most influential people in my life.

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