Borah, Woodrow Wilson

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BORAH, WOODROW WILSON (1912–1999), U.S. historian. Born in Utica, Mississippi, Borah attended the University of California at Berkeley, where he earned his bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees. After teaching briefly at Princeton University, he worked for the U.S. State Department as an analyst in the Office of Strategic Services (1942–47). He joined Berkeley's history department in 1948 and was appointed professor of history in 1962. He served as chair of the campus's Center for Latin American Studies from 1973 to 1979. He retired from active teaching in 1980.

Borah was an authority on the social and economic history of Latin America, specializing in colonial Mexico and in historical demography. For decades he was considered one of the most influential and active scholars working to reconstruct the colonial experience in Spanish America. His primary interest was the development of methods for analyzing Mexican and Spanish colonial tribute data for demographic information. His chief works are New Spain's Century of Depression (1951), Early Colonial Trade and Navigation Between Mexico and Peru (1954), The Aboriginal Population of Central Mexico on the Eve of the Spanish Conquest (1963), Justice by Insurance: The General Indian Court of Colonial Mexico and the Legal Aides of the Half-Real (1983), and Price Trends of Royal Tribute Commodities in Nueva Galicia, 1557–1598 (1992). Borah was involved in local synagogue affairs and Jewish philanthropic efforts.

[Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]