Closing Column

Willie Lee Rose, 1927-2018: An Appreciation

By William B. Crawley Jr. The University of Mary Washington lost one of its most distinguished alumni on June 20, 2018, with the death of acclaimed historian Willie Lee Nichols Rose ’47. Born in the southwestern Virginia community of Moneta, Willie Lee Nichols was reared in nearby Bedford. Having graduated from Mary Washington at the age of 20, she married William G. Rose, a mechanical engineer and photographer, in 1949. After teaching high school English and history for several years, she enrolled at Johns Hopkins University, where she earned a doctorate in history in 1962. Two years later, she joined the faculty at the University of Virginia, where her impact on the historical profession was immediate, profound, and far-reaching. The book that catapulted Rose to the forefront of American historians was titled Rehearsal for Reconstruction (1964). In that study of the community of Port Royal, South Carolina, where slaves gained their freedom in 1861, she argued that blacks had … [Read more...]