Obituary: Henry W. Berger, professor emeritus of history, 81

Henry W. Berger, professor emeritus of history in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, died Dec. 10, 2018. He was 81.


Born in Frederick, Md., in 1937, Berger earned a bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University in 1959 and both a master’s and doctorate from the University of Wisconsin, in 1961 and 1966, respectively. He taught at the University of Vermont from 1965-69.

Berger joined the Washington University faculty in 1970, teaching classes on American history and foreign policy, and won faculty summer grants in 1972 and 1978. From 1981-84, he served as chair of the Jewish Studies Program and from 1984-89 as chair of Jewish and Near Eastern Studies.

In 1984, he received the Undergraduate Teaching and Service Award from the Council of Students of Arts & Sciences.

Over the years, Berger received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Major publications included: “A William Appleman Williams Reader” (1992), which surveyed how the influential historian reshaped views of U.S. diplomacy in the Cold War era; and “St. Louis and Empire: 250 Years of Imperial Quest and Urban Crisis” (2015), which traces the city’s role in foreign affairs since its founding in 1764.

Berger also contributed chapters to the books “Cold War Critics” (1971), “From Colony to Empire” (1972) and “The American Working Class” (1979), among others. His articles, reviews and opinion pieces appeared in numerous outlets, including the American Historical Review, The Nation, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Baltimore Sun.

In 2006, he was featured in the PBS documentary “The American Flag: Two Centuries of Concord & Conflict” (2006). His essay on “The ‘Long’ 1968” was published in The Common Reader last summer.

Berger is survived by his wife, Mary, and their two children, David and Leah Berger.

Memorial contributions can be made to Washington University’s Henry Berger Scholarship Fund. To do so, visit and enter Henry Berger Scholarship Fund into the “Special instructions” field. Checks should be made out to Washington University with Henry Berger Scholarship Fund in the subject line and sent to History Department, Campus Box 1062, Washington University in St. Louis, One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, 63130.

Leave a Comment

Comments and respectful dialogue are encouraged, but content will be moderated. Please, no personal attacks, obscenity or profanity, selling of commercial products, or endorsements of political candidates or positions. We reserve the right to remove any inappropriate comments. We also cannot address individual medical concerns or provide medical advice in this forum.