U-Va. History Professor William H. Harbaugh Dies

Sunday, May 1, 2005

William H. Harbaugh, 85, a history professor emeritus at the University of Virginia and author of well-received biographies of President Theodore Roosevelt and presidential candidate John W. Davis, died April 28 at his home in Charlottesville. He had liver failure.

Dr. Harbaugh taught at U-Va. from 1966 until 1990, retiring as Langbourne M. Williams Professor of American History.

Reviewers called his book "Power and Responsibility: The Life and Times of Theodore Roosevelt" (1961) one of the best single-volume resources about the president. Writing in the New York Times, historian Eric F. Goldman called the book a "big, lusty volume, rigorous in style, outspoken and combative in its judgments."

His book "Lawyer's Lawyer" (1973) was about Davis, one of the towering figures of his day but now all but forgotten. He was a Democratic congressman from West Virginia who became solicitor general of the United States, ambassador to the Court of St. James's and then an unsuccessful candidate for president of the United States in 1924.

Writing in the New York Times, Richard Kluger called the book "a monument of scholarship and readability."

William Henry Harbaugh was a native of Newark and a 1942 graduate of the University of Alabama. After Army service in Europe during World War II, he continued his education.

He received a master's degree in history from Columbia University in 1947 and a doctorate in history from Northwestern University in 1954. The Woodrow Wilson scholar Arthur S. Link was his dissertation adviser.

Early in his career, Dr. Harbaugh taught at the University of Connecticut, the University of Maryland, Rutgers University and Bucknell University. He was among a group of academics who signed a petition in 1966 against U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

In retirement, he helped preserve Pine Knot, Edith and Theodore Roosevelt's rustic presidential retreat south of Charlottesville. He was a recipient of the Theodore Roosevelt Association's Distinguished Service Medal this year.

Survivors include his wife of 52 years, Virginia Talbot Harbaugh of Charlottesville; three children, Emelyn "Lyn" Harbaugh of Charlottesville, William T. Harbaugh of Eugene, Ore., and H. Richmond "Rick" Harbaugh of Bloomington, Ind.; and five grandchildren.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company