Preston William Slosson
1892 - 1984
Preston W. Slosson, professor emeritus of History and one of the best known teachers in The University of Michigan, died in Clarion, Pennsylvania on May 11, 1984. He was 91.
Preston Slosson was born in Laramie, Wyoming, on September 2, 1982. His father, Edwin Emery Slosson, was a chemist and college teacher who became one of the most important scientific journalists and publicists of his time. His mother, May Gorslin Preston, was the first woman to obtain a Ph.D. from Cornell. Preston Slosson was educated at Columbia University: B.S., 1912; M.A., 1913; Ph.D., 1916. He served in the U.S. State Department during 1917-1918 and attended the Versailles peace conference as assistant librarian of the United States delegation, 1918-1919. He also had editorial experience on his father's journal, the (New York) Independent in 1917 and 1920-1921.
During 1913-1917, Slosson was assistant in history at Columbia. In 1921 he joined the history department of The University of Michigan where he served until his retirement in 1962: instructor, 1921-23; assistant professor, 1923-27; associate professor, 1927-37; professor, 1937-62; professor emeritus, 1962-84. His Ph.D. dissertation, The Decline of the Chartist Movement, published in 1916, is still widely cited. He later devoted most of his scholarly attention to twentieth century history, publishing in particular The Great Crusade and After (1930) in the History of American Life series.
Preston Slosson's father Edwin was described in the Dictionary of American Biography as "easily the outstanding interpreter of science to the non-technical public." Preston Slosson had a comparable skill in explaining the intricacies of modern European history to non-specialist students and the general public of rather isolationist middle America. For four decades his freshman and more advanced surveys of modern European history were among the most popular courses in the University. Starting in 1941 and continuing long after his retirement he gave regular radio talks on current affairs. Out of these very serious pedagogical commitments came a long list of successful text-books, including Twentieth Century Europe (1927); Europe Since 1870 (1935); The Growth of European Civilization (with A.E.R. Boak and A. Hyma, 1936); History of the English-Speaking Peoples (with R.B. Mowat, 1943); Europe Since 1815 (1954); World History (with A.E.R. Boak and H.R. Anderson, 1942); and From Washington to Roosevelt (with Lucy Slosson, 1949).
In the 1930's Preston Slosson was visiting professor at the Universities of Bristol, Manchester, Glasgow, Sheffield and Aberystwyth and in later years at Redlands and Kansas State Universities. He was unsuccessful Democratic candidate for Congress in 1948. In 1981 a devoted former student established in his honor the Preston Slosson Prize Fellowship for a graduate student with a strong teaching commitment.
In 1927, Preston Slosson married Mrs. Lucy Denny Wright. His family includes his stepchildren, Lucy Chase Wright (Mrs. J.B. Stephenson) and Mary Elizabeth Wright (Mrs. G. Feamehough) and his children, Rev. Flora May (Mrs. W. Wuellner) and Edith Denny (Mrs. D.E. Tyson). A memorial service was held at the First Congregational Church on May 23.
Jacob M. Price