In Memoriam

George Marsh Fredrickson (1934-2008)

George M. Fredrickson, Edgar E. Robinson Professor of United States History Emeritus at Stanford University, died of heart failure in late February at his home on the Stanford campus. He was 73 years old.

Professor Fredrickson was one of the nation’s most respected scholars of racism, race relations, slavery, and African-American history. His masterpiece 1981 work, White Supremacy: A Comparative Study of American and South African History, fathered the new field of comparative history, which is widely used as a teaching method in the academic world today. Yale historian David Brion Davis, reviewing the book in The New York Times in 1981, said it was one of the “most brilliant and successful” historical studies ever written. The book was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Professor Fredrickson was born in Bristol, Connecticut, but grew up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He earned both a bachelor’s degree and a Ph.D. in history at Harvard. He was on the faculty at Harvard and Northwestern University before coming to Stanford in 1984. There he cofounded the Research Institute of Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity.

Professor Fredrickson retired from teaching in 2002. Yet he continued to be a prolific writer, contributing frequently to several publications including The New York Review of Books and The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education.

His latest book, published just last month, is Big Enough to Be Inconsistent: Abraham Lincoln Confronts Slavery and Race.

Gwindelle Wilson Ponder (1927-2008)

Gwindelle W. Ponder, who taught mathematics at Kennedy-King College in Chicago for nearly two decades, has died from abdominal cancer. She was 80 years old.

Ponder grew up in Charleston, South Carolina. Her father was a Baptist minister and her mother, who had a bachelor’s degree, ran a beauty shop. Ponder received a bachelor’s degree from Fisk University and a master’s degree in mathematics from Columbia University. She taught in the public schools of Chicago for 16 years before joining the faculty at Kennedy-King College. She later earned a Ph.D. from Heed University.

Helen J. Goodwin  (1912-2008)

Helen J. Goodwin, a retired education professor who taught at Coppin State University in Baltimore, died from Alzheimer’s disease at a health facility in Baltimore. She was 95 years old.

A native of Norfolk, Virginia, Goodwin graduated from what is now Hampton University. She later earned a master’s degree from New York University and a doctorate from Johns Hopkins University.

Goodwin joined the faculty at Morgan State University in 1962 and later was hired at Coppin State, where she remained on the faculty for nearly two decades. Her daughter is a state senator in Maryland and her granddaughter sits on the Baltimore City Council.