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Louise Elliot Dalby

Louise Elliot Dalby

Louise Elliot Dalby, professor emerita of history, died December 26, 1995. A member of the Skidmore faculty for 17 years, she was 79.

A native Nebraskan, Louise earned B.S and M.A. degrees from the University of Nebraska. In 1956 she earned a Ph.D. in French history from Radcliffe College. She held a faculty position at Barnard College before joining the Skidmore history department in 1961. She served as department chair from 1962 to 1970, during which time she built an essentially new department in the wake of the deaths of key faculty members Grace Cockroft and Alice Warren.

Research that took Louise to France a number of times, including a year of graduate study at the Université de Paris, led to the publication in 1963 of her Leon Blum: Evolution of a Socialist, a critical biography of the French politician. Subsequent research abroad and in American archives was directed toward a comparative study of the activities and contributions of British, French, and American women in World War I and the effects of such experiences on their ideas and attitudes.

Selected by her colleagues to deliver the Faculty Research Lecture in 1970, Louise discussed “The Great War and Women’s Liberation,” noting that although military service involves a loss of freedom, “Women went to war to be free . . . to make basic decisions for one’s way of life, freedom to carry the responsibility for those decisions, freedom from class consciousness, and freedom to establish new social mores.” Yet when the war was over, women’s military service “had barely touched men’s prejudices.”

In 1971 fellow historians in the region acknowledged Louise’s contributions to the discipline by electing her to a two-year term as president of the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians. She was active in other professional organizations as well and served for many years as a reader for Educational Testing Services.

Louise was widowed as young woman when her husband, an army officer in World War II, died of wounds received in action. 

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