We are saddened to learn of the passing of Gary Nash, a good friend and colleague to so many in the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond. While Gary spent his career in California at UCLA, he earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees at Princeton, and he never lost touch with Philadelphia, the city where he was born. Among many other works of scholarship, Gary’s research opened new ways of understanding Philadelphia with Quakers and Politics: Pennsylvania 1681-1726 (published in 1968), The Urban Crucible: Social Change, Political Consciousness, and the Origins of the American Revolution (1979), Forging Freedom: The Formation of Philadelphia’s Black Community, 1720-1840 (1988), First City: Philadelphia and the Forging of Historical Memory (2002), and many other books and articles.
An engaged scholar who promoted excellence in education and public history, Gary also played a pivotal role in significant Philadelphia projects. He amplified critical needs for inclusive history, particularly by intervening in the public interpretation of the Liberty Bell and the President’s House site to assure the recognition of enslaved Africans and the complexities of freedom in early America. And in 2007, he amplified the need for a comprehensive, public, and inclusive history of Philadelphia — The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia, which continues as an active project at MARCH today. Gary served as a consulting editor and contributed important essays for the project.
To learn more about Gary Nash’s life and career, we invite you to read the tribute published by the UCLA History Department, linked here. Moreover, we encourage you to honor his life’s work by following his example of commitment to excellent, inclusive engagement with history.