|Birth: ||Dec. 10, 1914|
|Death: ||Jan. 6, 1998|
James H. Shideler died peacefully at his home on Jan. 6, 1998. Born in 1914 in Oxford, Ohio, he was 83. He had been a part of the Davis community since 1945.
He received his bachelor's degree from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and then moved west and earned his Ph.D. at UC Berkeley. A stalwart of UC Davis, he was a professor of history and intermittent chair of the history department from 1945 until his retirement in 1984.
He was the author of articles on American agricultural history and was the editor of The Agricultural History Journal from 1964 to 1984. He authored ``Farm Crisis 1919-1923'' and edited ``Agriculture in the Development of the Far West.''
He was the director of the Agricultural History Center at UC Davis from 1964 to 1978 and was president of the Agricultural History Society in 1973.
He and his wife built a family cabin in Glen Alpine Canyon in the Sierra Nevada near Lake Tahoe in the 1960s. This retreat has been the heart of many gatherings for family and friends. His spirit and memory will live on in this majestic setting.
He is survived by his wife, Idella, and their three children. Sarah Shideler Hendrickson lives in Eugene, Ore., with her companion Gretchen Miller and they have three children, James, Alexander and Douglass. William Michael Shideler lives in San Anselmo with his son Ian. Katherine Shideler White and her husband Charles White and their children Lisa and John live in Davis.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday at Davis Community Church, 412 C St. Following the service, friends are invited to an informal reception at the Shideler home.
University of California faculty obituary:
The story of the History Department at Davis during its founding and expansionist decades from the 1950s through the 1970s finds James Henry Shideler at its center. Encountering colleagues from throughout the country at history meetings in those years, he always professed to be "building for the future." Indeed he was. His eye and efforts were consistently turned to the progress of his institution, his profession, his community, and his family. His collegial warmth, civility, and endorsement of "all kinds of history," reminiscent of Carl Becker's historical stance, brought a steadying and encouraging influence to the department that gathered teachers and scholars of variety and distinction.
Jim's published work was always devoted to agrarian people and policies. Beginning in 1948, he produced articles on Wisconsin progressive politics and national agricultural policies of the 1920s. His important book, Farm Crisis, 1919-1923, appeared in 1957. His renown as agricultural historian was gained over two decades by editing and supervising publication of 79 quarterly issues of Agricultural History (January 1965-July 1984). He defined agricultural history as rural studies broadly construed. Anything that touched on food production, processing, and consumption was eligible. His view spanned the subjects of agricultural science and technology, water rights, political and bureaucratic farming issues, all economic systems, agricultural labor (including slaves and peasants), education and research, conservation, irrigation, and rural society.
The journal led the field of publications on land policy. It was a popular outlet for critiques of Turner long before the New Western history, but the journal welcomed the kind of spatial studies that Turner once encouraged and historical geographers later developed. It was the first of the old-line history journals to publish cliometric articles, in part because such studies were devoted to agricultural issues and partly because Jim relished innovation. He encouraged authors from abroad, especially from the newer nations, and if articles were faulty in English, he worked to make them readable. Thank-you's for his careful criticisms even came to him from rejected authors, some of whom incorporated his suggestions, without acknowledgment, to get published in other journals! The journal was circulated world-wide; almost half the subscriptions came from outside the United States. A British writer called it one of the best edited history journals in English. In all of this, Editor Shideler was forwarding creative inquiry, avoiding parochialism, and tending his theme that "there are all kinds of history."
Beyond his scholarly editing, Jim's presence in the department gave the impression of a model institutional man even though he was impatient with committee work, disliked bureaucracy, and only once, at a time of need, chaired the Department of History. The model was one of a scholar who carried a loyalty to place and colleagues, one whose advice, given only when sought, was prudent and constructive, and one whose ideal of historical studies--imaginatively broad, unconfined by cant or fashion, and plainly expressed--helped to instill a healthy and congenial air of confidence within a growing department.
Another aspect of Jim's life was not so much private as it was independent and self-reliant, yet unselfish. Friends and townspeople saw these qualities in his role of family man and helpful neighbor. He worked his way to California from Miami University in Ohio where he graduated in 1936, where his father, a geology professor, had a building named for him, and where Jim began his romance with Idella Pindell, whom he married in San Francisco in 1941. Jim completed his Ph.D. in history at Berkeley in 1945 while Idella was secretary of the History Department. That same year, commuting from Berkeley by train, Jim began his teaching at Davis as Instructor in the two-year program.
The Shidelers moved to Davis in 1947 and soon Jim was constructing their house with his own hands on the northern edge of town, where they lived for three decades and brought up three children. They became pillars of a growing university community; Idella taught mathematics in the high school for many years. Their love of the Sierra led them to build a family cabin above Fallen Leaf Lake as a respite from duties in the valley. Their generosity in loaning their mountain retreat to friends and colleagues was matched by their hospitality in using their Davis home as a frequent gathering and dining place for out-of-town visitors and their wide circle of friends.
Over the years it seemed to those who knew him well that Jim Shideler possessed that remarkable combination of a liberal spirit in personal relationships, with Jeffersonian convictions--realized in his teaching and editing--that land and learning are compatible, that human-kind profits from the empirical study of nature, and that open inquiry with diversity of ideas is fundamental to the healthy life of a public university. We learn from Jim's phrase that "there are all kinds of history" while we treasure the memory of only one James Henry Shideler.
by Wilson Smith, Arnold Bauer, Ted Margadant, and Morgan Sherwood
William Henry Shideler (1886 - 1958)
Katherine Hoffman Shideler (1886 - 1959)
Idella Elizabeth Pindell Shideler (1916 - 1999)*
William Watson Shideler (1913 - 1989)*
James Henry Shideler (1914 - 1998)
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Record added: Mar 31, 2012
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