Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture

Leading Early American Scholarship Since 1943


Remembering Rhys

Being out of the loop of those who knew, I learned of Rhys Isaac’s impending death very shortly before he died and was therefore hit even harder than I might have been had I known earlier. I was indeed hit very hard by this news, as Rhys had played a very important role in making me aware of the possibilities of viewing the past as a participant/observer might have. A long time ago he suggested that we keep in touch with one another and share our works in progress; we each noted that we were bad correspondents and never kept this promise. But I have held a secret conversation with him in my head these many years, and sometimes he convinced me to rethink things I was doing.

He left me a wonderful note in his last book, telling me that he found my work on unconscious undercurrents in the Revolutionary era “inspirational”. What more could one ask? I want to ask of Rhys a great deal more and missed the chance to do so. This I rue.

Mechal Sobel,
University of Haifa