Oscar Handlin, Carl M. Loeb University Professor Emeritus, died from a heart attack on Sept. 20 at his Cambridge home. He was 95.
Handlin taught at Harvard for nearly 50 years, and was director of the Harvard University Library from 1979 to 1984. According to Robert Darnton, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and University librarian, Handlin’s legacy at Harvard’s libraries is extensive: Handlin oversaw the construction of Pusey Library, the adoption of the Library of Congress cataloging system, and the preparation of what is now the HOLLIS catalogue.
The author of more than 30 books, Handlin was a noted historian, and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1952 for “The Uprooted: The Epic Story of the Great Migrations That Made the American People.”
“As a historian, he spoke to an enormous public and explained the central importance of immigration as a theme in American history,” said Darnton. “I took his course in American social history when I was a student. His lectures ended precisely at noon. He had a flat, undramatic style of lecturing, but we walked out of the lecture hall excitedly debating the points he raised. We continued to debate them throughout lunch — in fact, in some cases, for the rest of our lives.”
Handlin leaves behind a wife, Lilian (Bombach) Handlin, a brother, Nathan, and children David, Joanna Handlin Smith, and Ruth Handlin Manley. He also leaves four grandchildren and a great-grandchild.
A memorial service will be held at a future date.