James W. Loewen (1942-2021)
We mourn the loss of our friend and colleague and remain committed to the work he began.
For more on his life and work:
- James W. Loewen, Who Challenged How History Is Taught, Dies at 79, The New York Times
- HNN Honors James W. Loewen, 1942-2021, History News Network
- James W. Loewen, author of best-selling ‘Lies My Teacher Told Me,’ dies at 79, The Washington Post
- James Loewen, Author Of ‘Lies My Teacher Told Me,’ Dies At 79, NPR
- James Loewen ¡Presente!, The Zinn Education Project
- James W. Loewen, wrote ‘Lies My Teacher Told Me,’ dead at 79, AP
- Paul Von Blum, James Loewen’s Crusade for Real History Is More Necessary than Ever, The Progressive Magazine
- Ann Banks, The Truth about James Loewen, History News Network
- Jim Loewen (1942-2021, In Memory), Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement
- Guy Lancaster, The Generosity of James Loewen, History News Network
- Ben Railton, Considering History: The Real Threat Facing American Education, Saturday Evening Post
If you have reflections on the life and work of James Loewen we invite you to share those with us by sending an email to email@example.com.
Five years ago I was in New York and had an opportunity to visit the American Museum of Natural History. As I approached the building I saw the monument to Teddy Roosevelt and was pretty shocked. I Googled the image and discovered Professor Loewen. I then read several of his books. To say I learned a lot is a big understatement.
The past few years have seen some of the most offensive monuments come down. I’m glad that Professor Loewen was able to witness some of this reckoning with America’s past before he passed away.
May the good memories he left be a blessing for his family and students.
–Paul L. Newman (Merion Station, PA)
I met Professor Loewen just once. Though he was already quite ill he invited me to his DC home to discuss a piece I was working on about a little-known Confederate monument in my town. I was, to him, a complete stranger. We had only corresponded a few times via email. I’m neither an historian nor college professor. I teach 4th grade and do most of my writing during summer break. Despite my lack of credentials, Jim graciously gave me some of his truly precious time—to listen and encourage. He didn’t have to do talk with me, but he did, because that’s what great educators do. They take the time. He will be missed, but his work goes on and even 4th grade teachers can help advance his cause for an honest accounting of US history.
–Dave Airozo (Silver Spring, MD)
Lies My Teacher Told Me was a bold book. I read it with community college students, who were blown away by Loewen’s bluntness, the facts he assembled, and the arguments he made. It made the teaching of U.S history ever so much more powerful.
Lies Across America inspired my own writing in local history, with its scrupulous documentation of what was left out of local stories.
Thank you James Loewen.
—Lauren Coodley (author of Lost Napa Valley (and 3 other histories of Napa) and a biography of Upton Sinclair, published by University of Nebraska, 2019)
I’ve been a major fan of Prof. Loewen for a long time, and have read all of his books (some of them many times). In fact, I had my well-read and slightly tattered copy of Lies My Teacher Told Me on my desk when I received your notice about his passing. Although I never met Mr. Loewen, I was truly saddened to learn of his passing.
About 6 months ago, I emailed Mr. Loewen after reading about the types of slow-moving airplanes that were purportedly used in the Tulsa Race Massacre in an old National Geographic, and posited to him that the anecdotal reports of these planes dropping kerosene-soaked bundles on the homes below were likely inaccurate. I explained that these airplanes could travel 155 MPH and felt it was unlikely that anyone could ignite kerosene in the open cockpits without setting themselves on fire as well. To my ultimate shock, surprise and delight, Mr. Loewen took the time to write me back and discuss the issue in the most scholarly and polite terms imaginable. He pointed out that although the airplanes could fly faster, they could also fly as slow as 55 MPH, making the theory plausible. Although I still don’t completely agree, I respect Mr. Loewen immensely for taking the time to write me back and was gratified that my fandom for this individual was well placed.