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March 31, 2004

In Memoriam: Professor Leften Stavros Stavrianos

By Patricia Quill

Leften Stavros Stavrianos, a distinguished world historian and long-time adjunct faculty in the History Department at the University of California, San Diego died of respiratory failure at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, Ca. on March 23. He was 91.

Born in Vancouver, Canada in 1913, Stavrianos is considered one of the founders of the field of world history and an authority on the modern history of Greece and the Balkans. Best known as a generalist and as an interpreter of world history, Stavrianos wrote Lifelines from Our Past (Pantheon, 1990), a non-standard historiography that represented a new approach to the study of human history. Stavrianos argued “the study of history provides modern man with ‘lifelines’ for understanding and responding to the contemporary situation.”

Stavrianos received a B.A. in history from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, and a M.A. and Ph.D. from Clark University in Worcester, Mass.

A lifelong educator, Stavrianos began his career at Queens University, Kingston, Ontario and Smith College, Northampton, Mass. He taught for more than 27 years at Northwestern University. Stavrianos taught George McGovern while he was at Northwestern University and became a lifetime friend and supporter of the South Dakota Democrat.

After his retirement from Northwestern in 1973, Stavrianos joined the UCSD Department of History as adjunct faculty where he remained an active member of the community until 1992. Stavrianos was instrumental in the development of the curriculum for Eleanor Roosevelt College on the UCSD campus.

Stavrianos was a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship (1951), a Ford Faculty Fellowship (1953) and a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship (1967), as well as numerous other academic awards including an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from his alma mater, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts.

The author of 18 books and monographs, his works include the Balkans Since 1453 (1958), the World to 1500 (1970) and the World Since 1500 (1966), Global Rift (1981), and Lifelines from Our Past (1989) which was published in English and Japanese. He also developed world history texts for both high school and college level published and distributed by Prentice Hall.

A resident of Evanston and Glencoe, Ill. from 1946-1973 and of La Jolla, Ca. since 1975, Stavrianos was preceded in death by his wife of 47 years, Bertha Kelso who died in 1987. He is survived by his second wife, Agustina of La Jolla, and his brother Nick of Oberlin, Ohio; as well as his children Peter and his wife Barbara of Myersville, Md., and Marjorie of Central Lake, Mich.; grandchildren Cindy of Santa Barbara, California, Michael and his wife Zoya of Potomac, Maryland, and Christopher and his wife Jennifer of Chicago, Ill.; and by great grandchildren Chloe and Jacob of Potomac, Md.

No local service is planned. In lieu of flowers the family suggests donations in Stavrianos’ name to the Southern Poverty Law Center, 400 Washington Ave., Montgomery, Al. 36104 or call 1(888) 414-7752.

Media Contacts: Patricia Quill (858) 534-3624


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