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Legacies of Bill Rorabaugh carry on in new fellowship and book prize

Submitted by Xiaoshun Zeng on November 24, 2020 - 2:00pm
profile image of Professor William Rorabaugh

While members of the History community still mourn the loss of Professor Emeritus William (“Bill”) Rorabaugh (1945-2020), his legacies in the Department and the field of history will endure with the creation of a new endowed graduate fellowship and a national book prize, both named after him.

In October 2020, Department Chair Professor Glennys Young announced the establishment of the William Rorabaugh Endowed History Fellowship, thanks to an extraordinarily generous gift bequeathed by Bill. “It is a gift that will perpetuate Bill's legacy and be of great value to the graduate program and the Department,” noted Professor Young.

The first Rorabaugh Fellow will be awarded in the academic year 2021-2022, with the full allotment of quarters coming in 2022-2023. The fellowship will offer five quarters of graduate student support for students in any field.

Across the broader field of history, friends and colleagues are also paying tribute to Bill’s lifetime contribution to the study of alcohol history. The Alcohol and Drug History Society (ADHS) has recently established the William J. Rorabaugh Book Prize, and is continuing to raise funds. 

This book prize commemorates the life of Bill, a pioneer in the social history of alcohol and a former president and tireless supporter of the Society. After earning his Ph.D. in history from UC Berkeley, Bill went on to publish The Alcoholic Republic: An American Tradition (Oxford University Press, 1979)–a work so far ahead of its time that it is still used in college-level history courses today. Bill remained active in the alcohol and drugs history field through enthusiastic participation in the ADHS leadership and conferences, devoted mentorship of junior scholars, and his most recent work, Prohibition: A Concise History (Oxford University Press, 2018).

The Rorabaugh Prize will be awarded annually to the author(s) of a first or second monograph in the English language in the history of alcohol and drug studies. Prizewinning books will exhibit the high standards of scholarship, superior quality, and distinguished contribution to the field that exemplified the work of Bill Rorabaugh. The inaugural prize will be awarded in conjunction with the next conference of the ADHS, currently scheduled for Summer 2022 in Mexico City.

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