James William Carson (1925-2005)

James W. Carson, 1983

James W. Carson was born in Ohio in October, 1925 and graduated from Miami of Ohio in 1949. He remained to earn a M.A. in History in 1951, then served as a reference librarian and taught as an instructor in history there. He left to pursue further graduate work at Syracuse University in 1953, teaching in the history department there as well. He also had taught at Western College. He later continued graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

He came to Dickinson in July, 1956, and taught in the Department of History as an assistant and associate professor until his retirement in 1991. He offered a remarkable array of courses during his tenure but is mostly remembered for his contributions to the curriculum in comparative history, especially in the area of South Asia. As his chairman related on his retirement, "the first non-western civilization class at Dickinson was taught in 1935 (but) twenty five years later, colleagues like Donald Flaherty and Jim Carson, along with just a few others, still struggled to nurture this worthy and vital tradition. Today, we know, of course, that they succeeded and that a new generation stands gratefully on these broad shoulders." To commemorate his work, the Department of History instituted in 1992 the James W. Carson Prize for Non-Western and Comparative History, funded from very generous contributions from his friends, his colleagues, and generations of his students.

He was married to Mary Francis Watson, the long time administrator of student life at Dickinson. He had two children. He lived in retirement in Carlisle and remained loyal to the College and close to his old department he had served so well. Throughout his life he bore bravely and resiliently the respiratory problems he acquired in his youth. These prompted his doctor then to tell his parents their son would not live much past forty. He died in Carlisle of respiratory and heart failure on the morning of Wednesday, May 17, 2005. He was seventy-nine years old.

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Dickinson College Archives
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