I learned some sad news today when I logged onto Facebook and saw an update from the American Antiquarian Society; early American scholar and retired chief historian of Old Sturbridge VillageJack Larkin passed away earlier this spring. I was a student of his in the fall 2008 American Studies Seminar at AAS. I owe my first introduction to archival research to Jack Larkin and his seminar on personal narratives in the pre-Civil War Northern US. Under his guidance, I developed a research paper on 19th century theater, which would eventually become the foundation of my Master’s thesis. Larkin’s expansive knowledge of early American history was truly remarkable and his enthusiasm for the subject was contagious. He was approachable and personable, and incredibly insightful as a professor. He took us seriously, even though we were undergrads and many had never done this type of research before, and pushed us to develop our ideas further. I didn’t know it at the time, but my experience in the American Studies Seminar had a profound impact on my studies and developing my research interests.
Publick Occurences has a wonderful tribute to Larkin’s long and distinguished career. I send my condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.