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Katz, Solomon


KATZ, SOLOMON (1909–1990), U.S. historian. Born in Buffalo, New York, Katz was hired in 1936 as an instructor by the history department of the University of Washington, where he remained for 53 years. In 1950 he was appointed professor of history. Katz's main scholarly interest was the period of the decline of the Roman Empire and the emergence of the medieval world. His doctoral dissertation, "The Jews in the Visigothic and Frankish Kingdoms of Spain and Gaul" (1937), combined Jewish sources with Roman and Germanic sources to illustrate the status and organization of the Jews. Katz developed such an interest in the history of the late Roman Empire, or Byzantine history, that he began to offer courses in the subject in 1940, making the uw one of the few institutions to offer such classes at the time. He served in the U.S. Army Air Force (1942–46). During his tenure at the university, Katz also served as chair of the history department, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, provost, and vice president for academic affairs.

His book The Decline of Rome and the Rise of Medieval Europe (1955) is a brief popular survey. He also published in Jewish and general scholarly journals. Katz was a member of the Commission on Academic Affairs of the American Council on Education (1967); president of the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association (1967–68); and a member of the Commission on Students and Faculty of the Association of American Colleges (1969). An avid supporter of the arts and humanities in the Northwest, he served as a member of numerous arts, civic, and educational boards as well, including the Seattle Repertory Theater, the Seattle Art Museum, the Seattle Symphony, and Lakeside School. In 1978 he received the Seattle Mayor's Public Service Award in the Arts. That year, the uw established the Solomon Katz Distinguished Lectureship Series in the Humanities and, later on, an endowed professorship was created in his honor. In addition, the Solomon Katz Distinguished Lectures in the Humanities Series was established by private donors to recognize distinguished scholars in the humanities. In 1983 Katz was presented with the University of Washington's Outstanding Public Service Award.

[Irwin L. Merker /

Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]

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