Professor Jim Farrell 1949-2013

Jim Farrell died July 25, 2013. This evening my son Matt, a history and environmental studies major at St. Olaf College, took part in a memorial service for Jim.

Last spring, at the end of his junior year, Matt was a student in Jim’s American Consumer History and attended what turned out to have been the last class of the final course Jim taught at St Olaf.

Jim’s first year at St. Olaf College was 1977, my freshman year. I attended what might have been his first lecture, part of an American history survey course taught by the faculty. Three years after that lecture Jim listened to me when I asked him for help searching some of the roots of American thought. In an independent study we read Walden, Emerson’s Essays, Leaves of Grass, and other transcendentalists texts and discussed them once a week over pancakes at the Ole Store. For 36 years he taught American history, American studies and environmental studies with an unassuming spirit and a humble curiosity that endeared him to hundreds of students.

Here’s a link to a tribute to Jim by another of his former students:

Jim was “Dr America” on a college radio program, guiding listeners through an imaginary museum of American culture.  Here’s a link to a page of archived episodes from the show.

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