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The Late Professor Robert F. Engs

February 8, 2013

On Monday, January 14th, 2013, the University of Pennsylvania and the African-American community lost a dedicated champion for African-American history, Professor Robert F. Engs.

Professor Engs first began to serve on Penn’s History Department in 1972. He taught at both the graduate and undergraduate levels with a focus on three major areas in American history: History of the US South, African American History, and US Civil War and Reconstruction. While at the university, Professor Engs also worked at the Wharton School and taught M.A.L Programs of the College of General Studies.

Professor Engs’ research and writing ranged from topics about slavery and the postbellum period to discussions about Southern politics, economics, and the civil rights era. He was the author of Freedom’s First Generation: Black Hampton, VA, 1861-1890, Educating the Disfranchised and Disinherited: Samuel Chapman Armstrong and Hampton Institute, 1839-1893, and The Birth of the Grand Old Party: The Republican’s First Generation.  Professor Engs was also responsible for developing “The Crisis of the Union Archives,” an electronic archive on the middle 19th Century.

Professor Engs was the recipient of the Lindback Award for Excellence in Teaching. He was also a former Guggenheim and William Penn Fellow. Outside of serving as the undergraduate chair of the History Department and co-chair of the African-American Studies Program at Penn, Professor Engs was a Commonwealth visiting professor at the College of William and Mary.

Professor Engs held regular lectures at historically black colleges/universities (HBCUs). He had most recently been working with the Center for Community Partnerships on developing courses being taught at  University City High School.  He will be remembered and celebrated for his tireless work in keeping the conversations about African American history in this country alive.

Victoria Ford, CAS ’15

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