With tremendous grief, I’m writing to let you know that our beloved colleague, mentor, adviser, friend, and former SHEAR President John Murrin died this morning at 7 a.m. John had been frail and in declining health for a while and was not able to make it through this globally desperate time. I don’t have the skill to express what John has meant to me since I first met him in 1992 when I was 22-year old senior in college. John’s confidence in me has always exceeded my own, and to have the support of someone possessed of such deep learning and scholarly talent made it possible for me to face the never-ending and tremendous challenges that come with trying to conceive and articulate arguments about the past.
As much as I will remember John Murrin’s capacity to weave together with complexity and clarity so much that at first seemed disconnected, his voracious interest in historiographies of all varieties, and his awe-inspiring command of the early modern archival sources of the early modern Anglophone world, I will always remember most John’s democratic willingness, in fact eagerness, to give his attention and respect to the ideas of anybody who was making the effort to learn and to develop intellectually. It never mattered to John what degree the person had, where the degree came from, or with whom the person was connected. John was always guided by this democratic devotion to intellectual community. Like the nation that has produced it, ours is far too often a profession shaped by wealth, hierarchy, and status—and it will likely only become relentlessly more so. In that world, John Murrin was always a mischievous, loving, and generous wild card.
Co-Editor,Journal of the Early Republic
Professor of History
Graduate Program Director
Department of History
I have such warm memories of John. Thank you Andy for capturing his spirit so well.