Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture

Leading Early American Scholarship Since 1943


Memorials: Pauline Maier

Pauline Maier served on the Council of the Omohundro Institute from 1981 to 1984.

Pauline Maier

Photograph courtesy of Andrea Maier

Remembering Pauline Maier

As one of Pauline Maier’s graduate students I had the opportunity to experience her generosity, her insights, and her passion to analyze and teach history.

Pauline spared nothing when helping her students and colleagues. Over the years I personally benefited from recommendations that are still talked about by those who read them, endless spot-on historical research advice, intensive workshop sessions, and gracious inclusion in her wide professional network. Her most common response to my gratitude was always a smile and a simple “Hey, I’m just doing my job.”

Pauline’s pursuit of excellence was unrivaled. From a student’s perspective she could be intense: our working sessions involved spiraling fountains of ideas, and she never returned a first draft without pages of comments in every margin. I cannot recall ever leaving her crowded office without an armload of borrowed books that I promised to read before our next meeting. But her ideas and suggestions arrived in the spirit of excitement and innovation: Pauline and her students were always a team, uniting to identify pathways to the next undiscovered narrative, the next analytical connection. She breathed life into history and made it an adventure.

Pauline’s laughter encompassed everyone and everything around her, and I miss it terribly. Her voice and words (such as “Never put words in the mouths of silent people,” “The desk drawer is your best editor,” or “Does this pass the ‘so what’ test?”) have guided all my teaching and research endeavors, and will continue to do so.

Robert Martello
Olin College