A message from Scott C. Martin, Professor of History and American Culture Studies and History Department Chair at Bowling Green State University:
With great sadness, I report that our friend and colleague, Bill Rorabaugh, has passed away. Bill has been a consistent supporter of ADHS, and a fixture at our biennial meeting. Bill took his undergraduate degree at Stanford, and his PhD from UC Berkeley in 1976. One of the “Class of ’79,” Bill pioneered the field of alcohol history with his classic The Alcoholic Republic: An American Tradition. He went on to publish seven books and numerous journal articles, as well as coauthoring a U.S. History textbook. His research interests broadened during his career, from craft apprentices to JFK to the 1960s, but he periodically returned to alcohol and drugs history, notably in his discussion of drugs and the 1960s counterculture in American Hippies (2015) and in his recent Prohibition: A Concise History (2018). Bill stayed close to ADHS as well, as a loyal member and president of the society in 2006.
Bill’s research accomplishments continue to impress – The Alcoholic Republic is still used in history courses – but many of us will also remember him as a colleague and mentor. I first encountered him as a graduate student; he was approachable, knowledgeable, and always willing to talk about politics, alcohol, the 1960s, and a host of other topics. I’ve benefitted from his comments on conference papers, guidance on new direction and questions for my research, and career advice as I moved from assistant to full professor. I know that many others shared similar experiences with Bill. For beginning scholars and senior colleagues, he exerted a salutary influence in ADHS and beyond. As a colleague, scholar, and friend, Bill will be missed greatly.