Happy Birthday, Dr. Hyman!

I found out on Facebook that today is Harold Hyman’s 90th birthday. Dr. Hyman came to Rice in the fall of 1968, just in time to experience the Masterson crisis, and he was instrumental in ensuring that the history of that episode was preserved for people like me to use later. He was a prolific writer and editor in the fields of legal and constitutional history as well as the Civil War and Reconstruction and he ran an infamous, never-ending graduate seminar that proved brilliantly effective at getting his students to complete their doctorates in a timely fashion. He was devoted to those students and worked tirelessly on their behalf. He and his beloved wife, Ferne, treated them as family.

Because he was both accomplished and photogenic he got his picture taken a lot–we have dozens of pictures of him. This first one, dated 1972, is very sweet:

Harold Hyman 1972 better

But I can’t resist adding a second, because it made me smile. He could stop you in your tracks with that look:

Thresher files Harold Hyman nd

A Marine in World War II, Dr. Hyman spoke movingly at Rice’s Veteran’s Day celebration in 2012.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Hyman!

And thanks to Rachel Dvoretzky for pointing me to the Facebook post.





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7 Responses to Happy Birthday, Dr. Hyman!

  1. Syd Polk says:

    I was a transfer student, changing majors from music to computer science along the way. I took very few non-CS/math/sci classes at Rice. His Civil War class was one of my favorite classes.

  2. C Kelly says:

    He’s the author of “Oleander Odyssey,” a history of the Kempner family. (Galveston is their home town.)

  3. John Polking says:

    Harold and I came to Rice together in 1968. He is a valued friend. Even so, I am surprised to hear that he is ninety years old! I hope he lives to be 190. Best wishes Harold.

  4. Barbara Eaves says:

    And Happy Birthday, Harold!

  5. Hance Burrow, Lovett 74' says:

    Happy Birthday Professor Hyman:

    I had Professor Hyman for several classes while at Rice. I agree with the comment about him and Ferne treating us like family. I have told several folks that I always thought my best “class” at Rice was when Dr. Hyman in his role as faculty associate at Lovett would join us for lunch. Ferne often joined him. There was always a table full visiting about various matters of interest, sometimes for up to an hour after lunch. One of my favorite lines occurred at one of those lunches. He commented to me that he was unclear what benefits he was providing to me, but felt that at least when he saw me in class he knew I was not somewhere out on the streets. He said it much better than I can now repeat, but I have always loved that line.

  6. Patricia Allan Lucie says:

    I came from Glasgow, Scotland, privileged to join Harold’s seminar in 1969. I had been introduced to his work as an undergraduate and after reading his Radical Republicans wanted to go nowhere else but Rice. Both the university and the entire Hyman family were outstandingly generous to me and inspired my lifelong interest in the U.S and its Constitution. And now, as Harold celebrates his 90th, Scotland threatens secession. Help, Harold,Help! And Happy Birthday.

  7. Another amazing bit of history which I never see mentioned about Dr. Hyman is that while he was teaching at The University of Illinois he traveled with a couple of Illinois professors to Alabama to march at Selma in 1965. When we asked what made him go he said, “I talked the talk. I had to walk the walk.”

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