Anna K. Nelson, AU history professor

October 19, 2012

Anna K. Nelson, 79, who retired in 2011 after teaching diplomatic history at American University for 22 years, died Sept. 27 at her home in Washington.

She had chronic liver disease caused by hypertension, said her son Eric Nelson.

Dr. Nelson began her college teaching career at George Washington University as a history lecturer in 1970. She left in 1986 to become an adjunct professor in history at American University, where she was made Distinguished Historian-in-Residence in 1996.

Dr. Nelson, a government documents specialist, was the chief investigator for the Committee on the Records of Government from 1983 to 1985. She was also a member of the State Department’s Advisory Committee on Historical Diplomatic Documentation from 1992 to 1994 and served on the Kennedy Assassination Records Review Board from 1994 to 1998.

She published more than 30 scholarly articles and received many professional awards for her work, including the American Historical Association’s Troyer Steele Anderson Prize and a public-policy fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Anna Louise Kasten was born in Fort Smith, Ark., and was a 1954 history graduate of the University of Oklahoma. She received a master’s degree in government in 1956 and a PhD in history in 1972, both from George Washington University.

Her memberships included the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, the American Historical Association, and the Organization of American Historians.

Her husband of 50 years, Paul Nelson, died in 2006. He was a former director of the House Banking Committee.

Survivors include two sons, Eric Nelson of Rockville and Michael Nelson of Maplewood, N.J; a sister; and three grandchildren.

— Megan McDonough