On Thursday, May 19, Marquette University honored Prof. Emeritus Francis Paul Prucha, S.J. with a special reception in at the Raynor Library Archives. The event was timed to mark Prof. Prucha’s ninetieth birthday and the fiftieth anniversary of his appointment to the Marquette faculty, as well as the sixtieth anniversary of his entrance into the Jesuit Order.
Prucha is the preeminent scholar of the modern era on the subject of United States government-Native American relations. His numerous works include The Indian in American History (1971); Americanizing the American Indians (1973); The Dawes Act and the Allotment of Indian Lands (1973); The Churches and the Indian Schools, 1888-1912 (1979); The Great Father: The United States Government and the American Indians (1985), which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in History; and American Indian Treaties: The History of a Political Anomaly (1994).
Father Prucha was born in River Falls, Wisconsin in 1921.
He earned his bachelor’s degree from River Falls State Teachers College (now UW-River Falls) in 1941, and after stints as a high school teacher and an Army Air corpsman, he enrolled in the graduate program in history at the University of Minnesota, from which he received an M.A. degree in 1947. He then transferred to Harvard University from which he received his PhD in 1950.
After receiving his PhD, Prucha entered the Society of Jesus and was ordained as a priest in 1957. He joined the Marquette History Department in 1960. Because of the work of Prucha and colleagues like Frank Klement and Athan Theoharis, Marquette became a center of American legal-historical studies in the central United States in the second half of the twentieth century. Prof. Prucha took emeritus status in 1988, but has continued to live and work at Marquette.
Although never a member of the law school faculty Father Prucha was a regular visitor to the law school library and a mentor to a number of law school faculty, including Professors Idleman and Hylton. He is also the recipient of six honorary doctoral degrees.