Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture

Leading Early American Scholarship Since 1943

Memorials: Richard Beeman

Remembering Rick Beeman

When I got to Penn as a grad student, Rick was legendary among undergrads. He gave lectures as Patrick Henry and Jonathan Edwards, in costume. You could tell he genuinely loved his job. As a first year, I took what I believe was his last grad seminar, on the historiography of the American Revolution. I’ll admit, there was a little tension when the class began—Rick was a bowtie-wearing unapologetically traditional scholar. Though it was 2005, many books on the syllabus were from the 1960s and 1970s, and “Women and Indians” were given just a single week to share awkwardly. Certainly we gave Rick some pushback. Yet he charmed us and won us over, in part by being a gifted raconteur with many anecdotes and sly comments about the scholars we were reading. The reading may not have always been to my taste, but I walked away from Beeman’s seminar with a deeper appreciation for many historiographic classics. (Turns out there was a lot to learn from reading scholarship from the 60s!) From then on, whenever I spotted him on campus I was delighted to see him: he had a nice energy and positivity that felt refreshing. I am going to miss him.

Andrew Lipman
Barnard College, Columbia University