Haskins, Retired UT History Professor, Dies At 87

KNOXVILLE — Dr. Ralph W. Haskins, retired University of Tennessee professor of history, died recently in Knoxville. He was 87.

A memorial service was held Dec. 19 at Click Funeral Home in Farragut.

Haskins came to UT in 1950 after earning the Ph.D. degree at the University of California at

Dr. Ralph W. Haskins

Berkeley and was on the UT faculty until his retirement in 1981.

A native of Oklahoma, Haskins attended Northeastern State Teachers College, now Northeastern State University, in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, where he received the B.A. degree and where he met his wife, Florence Brady. He also earned the master’s degree at the University of Oklahoma.

In addition to teaching the history of the South, his specialty, Haskins also taught Latin American history when the department was small and had no Latin American specialist, said Dr. Milton Klein, professor emeritus and Haskins’ colleague.

“Dr. Haskins was always modest and self-effacing, but he left behind a host of students who profited from his rigorous standards, his emphasis on good writing, and his dynamic lectures,” Klein said.

In 1956, Haskins and the late LeRoy Graf initiated a major project, collecting the writings of President Andrew Johnson and editing them for publication by the fledgling University of Tennessee Press. By 1967, the first volume was off the press and the first copy was presented to President Lyndon Johnson at the White House. Before Haskins retired in 1981, six volumes had been completed.

Haskins was known as the literary stylist of the department, Klein said, and his skill was recognized by the administration when it asked him to edit the University-s 1970 Self-Study. Its readability led Graf to praise it as “a blinding beacon in the murky night of academic prose,” Klein said.

Haskins- wife and son, Jim, predeceased him.