Walter Lee Brown, Professor Emeritus of History, Dies at 89

Longtime faculty member also edited the Arkansas Historical Quarterly

Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Walter Lee Brown

Walter Lee Brown

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Walter Lee Brown, professor emeritus of history at the University of Arkansas and longtime editor of the Arkansas Historical Quarterly, died on Friday, Jan. 17, in Fayetteville. Surrounded by his family, he was 89.

Brown was a member of history faculty in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences from 1954 to 1990. Known for his inspired teaching, he instilled in his students a love of learning that lasted far beyond the time they spent on campus. He helped secure the university’s reputation as the state’s flagship institution for Arkansas studies.

Brown promoted the study of Arkansas history as editor of the Arkansas Historical Quarterly from 1958 to 1990, and as secretary-treasurer of the Arkansas Historical Association from 1955 to 1990. Under his leadership the Quarterly published some of the earliest scholarship on Arkansas’ African American and civil rights history.

“Anyone interested in Arkansas’ history is deeply in debt to Walter L. Brown,” said Patrick G. Williams, associate professor of history at the U of A and current editor of the Quarterly. “Under his leadership, the Arkansas Historical Quarterly welcomed fresh perspectives and changing methodologies and, by the time of his retirement, had become one of the nation’s most respected and scholarly state history journals.”

In 1966, while Orval Faubus was still Arkansas’ governor, Brown published Numan Bartley’s hard-hitting examination of the Little Rock desegregation crisis.

A respected scholar, Brown wrote the definitive biography of Albert Pike, a colorful figure of central importance to the politics and culture of antebellum and Civil War-era Arkansas. In the spring of 2009, the U of A dedicated the Walter L. Brown Foyer in Old Main.

Brown served in World War II in the U.S. Army Air Corps and earned a doctorate at the University of Texas.

A memorial service was held Jan. 21, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Fayetteville. The family suggests donations be made to the Walter Lee Brown Scottish Rite Scholarship in History at the U of A.


Chris Branam, research communications writer/editor
University Relations

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