Richard Beeman (In Memoriam)

Richard Beeman

John Welsh Centennial Professor Emeritus

In Memoriam: Richard Beeman (1942–2016)

The History Department mourns the loss of Professor Richard Beeman, John Welsch Centennial Professor of History Emeritus who died on September 5, 2016, at the age of 74. Professor Beeman spent more than forty years—his entire professional career—as a member of the History Department faculty. He was an engaged and passionate teacher, a distinguished scholar, and an active member of the Penn and the larger Philadelphia community.  He will be profoundly missed.

Please see the tribute written by Prof. Bruce Kuklick.

Also see the obituary published in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Donations honoring Professor Beeman may be made directly to the National Constitution Center or the ALS Association of Greater Philadelphia. Contributions to the National Constitution Center will be put towards the Richard R. Beeman National Constitution Center-University of Pennsylvania Visiting Scholar in Law and History.

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Dr. Richard R. Beeman, the John Welsh Centennial Professor of History, has been a member of the faculty at Penn for forty-three years. He is a historian of the American Revolutionary Era, and has written seven books and several dozen articles on aspects of America's political and constitutional history in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. His recent book, Plain Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution (Random House, 2009) was the winner of the George Washington Book Prize and the Literary Award of the Philadelphia Athenaeum. His newest book, The Penguin Guide to the United States was published by Penguin Press in August, 2010. He is hard at work on a "prequel" to his book on the Constitutional Convention: "Our Lives, Our Fortunes, Our Sacred Honor: Americans Choose Independence." That book will focus on the drama playing out within the Continental Congress between, September, 1774 and July 4, 1776, as America's political leaders argued and, ultimately, agreed, on the decision to declare their Independence from Great Britain.

Professor Beeman has served as Chair of the Department of History, Associate Dean in Penn's School of Arts and Sciences responsible for the School's humanities and social sciences departments, and as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Constitution Center and is Chair of the Constitution Center's Committee on Programs, Exhibits, and Education.

Professor Beeman's teaching activities at Penn have ranged over numerous topics dealing with the History of the United States from the founding of the colonies up to the Civil War. His current teaching interests center on the period of the American Revolution and Constitution and on the history of the American presidency and American presidential elections.

Dr. Beeman has received numerous awards, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, and the Huntington Library. He has served as a Fulbright Professor in the United Kingdom and as Vyvian Harmsworth Distinguished Professor of American History at Oxford University.

B.A., University of California, Berkeley, 1964 
M.A., College of William and Mary, 1965 
Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1968