Dr. Paul Langdon Ward, former missionary to China, President of Sarah Lawrence College, Executive Secretary of the American Historical Association and peace activist, died in Gwynedd, PA on November 13, 2005 after having suffered a heart attack.
Dr. Ward was born in 1911 in Diyarbakir in what was then the Ottoman Empire and now is Turkey, on either February 4 or 5. His father, Edwin St. John Ward, who was a medical missionary in the Middle East at the time, handled the delivery which occurred late in the evening so that the exact date was never known for certain. His family celebrated his birthday on both February 4 and 5.
Most of Dr. Ward’s childhood was spent in Lebanon, where he attended the American Community School. He graduated from Deerfield Academy in 1929 and was a devoted camper and counselor of Camp Dudley. He received his B.A. summa cum laude from Amherst in 1933, then pursued graduate studies in history at Harvard University. He received an M.A. from Harvard in 1934 and a Ph.D. in 1940. He was elected to the Society of Fellows and served as a tutor in Adams House.
Prior to World War Two, Dr. Ward taught at Russell Sage College. During the war, he worked in the Office of Strategic Services (the O.S.S.). After the war, he went out to China as a missionary for the Episcopal Church, teaching history and helping in the administration of Huazhong University in what is now Wuhan. He returned to the U.S. in 1950 and taught history at Colby College and the Carnegie Institute of Technology. At Carnegie Tech, he served as Chairman of the Department of History. While there, Dr. Ward established techniques, curricula and funding for ways of teaching history that could engage engineering students and others who were unlikely to pursue the study of history at the graduate level. Throughout his life, in many settings, he was passionate about improving teaching and learning.
In 1960, Dr. Ward was elected President of Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY. During his tenure there, he served on Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s Commission on the Higher Education of Women. Dr. Ward stayed at Sarah Lawrence until 1965, when he left to become Executive Secretary of the American Historical Association. He retired in 1974.
Dr. Ward is the author of Studying History (AHA, 1985), and editor (with Charles H. McIlwain) of Archeion (Harvard, 1957) and William Lambarde’s Notes on the Procedures and Privileges of the House of Commons (H.M. Stationery Office, 1977).
Dr. Ward received honorary degrees from Amherst College, Bard College and Clark University. He was a fifty-year member of the American Historical Association and belonged to the Conference on Faith & History, the Harvard Glee Club Association, the Medieval Academy of America and the Society for Religion in Higher Education. He was also a member of the Century Association and the Cosmos Club.
Along with his wife, Catharine, Dr. Ward was very active in the peace movement in general and with the Episcopal Peace Fellowship (the E.P.F.) in particular. He served on the Episcopal Church’s Joint Commission on Peace from 1980 to 1985. In 1988, he and his wife received the John Nevin Sayre Award of the E.P.F.
Dr. and Mrs. Ward were long-time residents (twenty-five years) of Hollin Hills, outside Alexandria, VA. More recently, they resided at Foulkeways, a life-care community in Gwynedd, PA.
Dr. Ward is survived by his wife of sixty-five years, Catharine; daughter Elisabeth Swain; sons John ’66, Thomas and Stephen ’69; five grandchildren; two great grandchildren; and brother Richard ’40.
—John C. Ward ’66