Campus & Community

Intellectual historian Fleming dies at 84

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Donald Fleming, an intellectual historian who studied the impact of science on American thought and was a member of the Harvard faculty for more than 40 years, passed away at his Cambridge home on June 16. He was 84.

Fleming, who was known for his vibrant and engaging presence in the classroom and on the Harvard campus, came to Harvard as professor of history in 1959, and was named the Jonathan Trumbull Professor of American History in 1970. He was the chair of the Department of History from 1963 to 1967, and between 1973 and 1980, he was director of the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History.

Fleming taught courses on American and European intellectual history, and the history of science in America. He retired in 1999 at the age of 76. His courses were widely popular among undergraduates due to the organized, entertaining, and enthusiastic style of his lectures.

Born in Hagerstown, Md., Fleming graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1943, and received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1947. Fleming was on the faculty of Brown University from 1947 to 1958, where he was chair of the history department, and he taught at Yale from 1958 to 1959.

Fleming’s published works included “William H. Welch and the Rise of Modern Medicine” (Little, Brown and Co., 1954) and “John William Draper and the Religion of Science,” which was published in 1950 and received the Albert J. Beveridge Prize of the American Historical Association. He was a Guggenheim Fellow from 1955 to 1956, and he was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.