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Probing the Past

Festschrift in Honor of Leo Schelbert

Edited By Wendy Everham and Virginia Schelbert

This Festschrift acknowledges the scholarly work of Leo Schelbert and his mentorship of graduate students in the Department of History at the University of Illinois at Chicago where for 33 years he taught American history. Professor Schelbert has specialized in the story of European migrations and especially of immigration to the United States. His courses offered not only pertinent data, but they also raised theoretical issues to which historical work is tied inescapably.
The varied essays included in this book reflect the range of themes former students, who now are scholars in their own right, have been pursuing. The topics of three essays center on North American Indians facing white intruders, another on émigré Hungarians living in Scotland, and one (contributed to this volume by a most esteemed colleague with whom Leo Schelbert shared many a student) on striking women straw workers in Tuscany. Another essay concerns matters relating to those grappling with mental health issues, while others deal with African newcomers in Chicago, Jewish immigrants to America who first worked as peddlers, contemporary Polish American politics in Chicago, and also with a nineteenth-century Swiss American theologian. Two of the last three essays honor Leo Schelbert’s work as a colleague and historian apart from the university setting, whereas the final one honors Leo Schelbert as a teacher as well as the Department of History at UIC in which its Swiss-born member worked from 1971 to 2003.
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Philip Schaff, Marginal Men and Academic Freedom



Philip Schaff (1819–1893), the nineteenth century scholar, was a “marginal man,” that is, one not easily influenced or deterred from his purpose by majority views and actions. Marginal people are thought to be eccentrics and even solitaries because they do not follow any particular crowd or even like being in a crowd, and yet their work often has far reaching effects. Academicians can testify to knowing some of these marginal people who deflect praise and glory, and yet in their humility and love of the quiet archive and writing desk produce work that deserves attention. One of these people, a man of Swiss descent who worked largely behind the scenes in American history, was Philip Schaff. Schaff was a thoughtful scholar who avoided taking sides in an argument until his analysis and critical evaluation was satisfied. Schaff influenced many in his time and still does for all who read him.

Two prevalent themes characterize Philip Schaff’s life and work. The first is that the study of history and theology must go together. He maintained a belief in God’s providential history and sovereignty in the overarching and underlying forces of history and theology.1 Thus, history and theology are inextricably mixed. In theory and practice, Schaff argued that the theologian must be a historian and a historian must be a theologian in order to corroborate all issues within a unified Christian worldview. The second theme is academic freedom. For Schaff, the scholar...

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