Emeritus Professor of History,
Reinhold A. Dorwart, Dies At 91
Reinhold A. Dorwart, professor emeritus of history, died on November 3, at the age of 91, from complications following spinal surgery.
With the exception of his wartime service, Dorwart was a member of the history department from 1935 until his retirement in 1973.
"His passing marks the end of an era in the life of the Department and the University," says Ronald Coons, professor of history. "He was the last professor of history hired before World War II, and he represented the generation that transformed the Connecticut State College into the University of Connecticut."
Dorwart was born in Holyoke, Massachusetts, into a working-class family.
His father was a German-born master carpenter.
Dorwart went to Amherst College with scholarship aid, washing dishes and working for the athletics department for board and room. At Amherst he was deeply influenced by Lawrence B. Packard, whose recruitment of future historians into the profession was legendary.
Following graduation, Dorwart went to Harvard, where he immersed himself in Prussian administrative history, the area in which he wrote his dissertation and laid the foundation for his first book. He joined the faculty in Storrs in 1935.
In November 1942, just after his promotion to associate professor, he joined the United States Navy. As a commissioned officer, he headed a radio technicians' school on an island in Casco Bay, Me., where he revealed his talents for teaching and organization. In the last year of the war he was sent to the Pacific theater. Dorwart remained active in the U.S. Naval Reserve for some 20 years.
Returning to Storrs, Dorwart introduced the University's first course in Russian history. Over his career he taught a wide range of courses, some 24 in number. His special focus was early modern Europe. He offered courses in the Renaissance and Reformation, the 17th and 18th centuries, and early-modern Germany.
He also enjoyed teaching western civilization to freshmen. "Reiny taught the course carefully, thoughtfully, thoroughly, uncompromisingly , and with an evangelical message," said the late history professor Harry Marks, in a retirement resolution read in his honor before the Faculty of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Many of Dorwart's students went on to take advanced courses in history.
Altogether he appears to have taught about 10,000 students during his career.
His book Administrative Reforms of Frederick William I of Prussia (Harvard University Press, 1953), was listed in the 1960 American Historical Association's Guide to Historical Literature. His study of the origins of welfare measures, The Prussian Welfare State before 1740, was also published by Harvard, in 1971.
Dorwart also wrote a short history of the Mansfield Center Congregation al Church on the occasion of its 250th anniversary, and played a major role in the founding of the New England Historical Association, serving as its president in 1967-68.
"Reiny always took an active and dedicated interest in the affairs of the Department, the College, and the University," said Marks. "In presenting his views on issues, he never lacked candor. — His forthrightness jarred some people — But it was also true that this viewpoint was directed to ideas rather than personalities. — To those who knew him well, — he was a warm, kind, and loyal friend."
Dorwart is survived by his wife of 69 years, Juanita, two sons and a daughter-in-law, and three grandchildren.