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Priscilla Brewer

Sunday, October 19th, 2008

From the former and current chair of Humanities and American Studies:

Dear Colleagues,

We are very sorry to inform you that our friend and colleague, Dr. Priscilla Brewer, Professor of American Studies, passed away on October 6 at about 6:00 a.m. She had been fighting cancer for several months and, though very recently she seemed to be winning the battle, a sudden turn of events changed all that.

This is a huge loss. Not only was Priscilla a friend for whom we all felt immense affection, she was a real department “trooper,” who would do almost anything to help students and colleagues. Her courses were demanding and no one got a grade from her they didn’t earn. She willingly taught lectures capping in the hundreds, and no matter how high the cap was, the courses filled, even though students registering would knew they would have to work like crazy even to get a “C.” The graduate students she mentored and who taught for us as TAs and often, later, as adjuncts, had the greatest respect for and deepest devotion to her. They are as devastated by this as we are, as many of you will be as you get this news.

Priscilla was a thorough, meticulous scholar with two very successful and substantial books to her credit. One dealt with the Shakers and the other focused on the development of the cast iron stove and its impact on American family life and social history. A third book, dealing with student life in Northern women’s colleges at the turn of the century, was in progress.

The loss can’t be calculated, but we are grateful for what we had: Priscilla’s work, intelligence, energy, and generosity, which has touched so many of us in so many positive ways.

A memorial service to honor Priscilla’s life has been scheduled for Thursday, October 23rd. It will begin at 5:30pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church., 11400 Morris Bridge Road. A memory book will be available and a potluck reception will follow the service.


Dan Belgrad
Silvio Gaggi