Rosenszweig Prize for Service

Roy Rosenzweig Distinguished Service Award for an individual or individuals whose contributions have significantly enriched our understanding and appreciation of American history.

This year, the Executive Board of the Organization of American Historians bestows its Roy Rosenzweig Distinguished Service Award on Robert Griffith of American University.

Robert Griffith is recognized above all for his exemplary service as Treasurer of the Organization of American Historians for three years from early in 2008 to the end of 2010. Coming into office at a moment of severe financial stress for the OAH, Bob helped to steer the Association into clear waters. His perceptive and knowledgeable analyses of difficult data; his capacity to mediate seemingly irreconcilable alternatives, and his scholarly and personal integrity drew the respect of everyone with whom he came into contact. Bob’s quick sense of humor, his judicious persona, and his warmth evoked thoughtful discussion and enabled difficult compromise.  As both Treasurer and Board member, Bob Griffith was a wise and trusted adviser and a true friend.  But there is more.

An OAH member since his graduate school days, Bob served the Organization in a myriad ways. While he was still an Assistant Professor he joined its membership committee. Subsequently, he was appointed to the Frederick Jackson Turner Prize Committee, and to the Committee on Historians and the First Amendment. From 1987 to 1990 he served on the editorial board of the Journal of American History. And, in 2002, he participated in the search committee for the office of treasurer. Little did he know at that point that he would soon hold that office along with a seat on the Executive Board.

Bob’s service to history extends beyond the confines of the OAH. A talented administrator, he served as chair of the History Departments first at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and then at American University where he was also Provost. For 6 years, he was Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of Maryland. But the measure of his devotion to the profession lies in the astonishing service he has performed for history departments and historians all over the country. He has evaluated dozens of Departments; appraised articles submitted to a vast array of scholarly publications, and published nearly a hundred book reviews.

A consummate historian of the late twentieth century, Bob wrote his first book on the early 1950s.  The Politics of Fear won the Frederick Jackson Turner Prize for the best first book in American History.  Bob followed this achievement with a series of incisive essays published in the major historical journals on aspects of twentieth century politics. These won recognition in the form of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Guggenheim Foundation. His co-edited volume of essays on Major Problems in American History has remained in print for 20 years.

Wise in an astonishingly wide range of contexts, Bob Griffith is an ideal OAH leader, ready to give his talents and his unfailing judgments to one difficult challenge after another. The Executive Board confers this award on Bob with deep respect and affection.

Organization of American Historians


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