Sixtieth Birthday Tribute
See Photo Album

Read congratulations and tributes from:
A-L  |   M-Z   |  Late Arrivals


Eleanor Alexander

All the best to one of the best!
Eleanor

PS. I still remember the birthday celebration at your summer home during the '90s.

Eleanor Alexander
Assistant Professor
History, Technology, and Society
Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA


Ernest Allen Jr.

Many happy returns on your 60th, Nell. May you continue serving as an inspiration to progressive scholars everywhere!

Ernest Allen Jr.
Professor of Afro-American Studies
University of Massachusetts at Amherst

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Harriet Alonso

Happy Birthday Nell! You have been a wonderful role model for me while I've struggled with writing the story of the Garrison children. Thank you so very much for your example.

A big hug on the big day,
harriet (alonso)

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Herbert Aptheker

Dear Glenn Shafer

So Nell is 60--soon she will be grown up!

I remember Nell's friendship. In the old McCarthyite days, it took some fortitude to greet this terrible Radical. Almost all turned away. But Nell was as sweet as usual and warmly greeted me.

My best to her. And how lucky you are to be able to sign yourself "Nell's husband".

Cordially
Herbert Aptheker

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Ed Ayers

Dear Nell,

Congratulations on your birthday! You have long led and inspired entire fields of history and I know you will continue to do so for many years to come. I do ask, however, that you save some graduate students for the rest of us. Have a wonderful celebration!

With warm regards,
Ed

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Houston & Charlotte Baker

Dear Nell,

Happy, Happy 6oth birthday from your colleagues of years past!! Have a wonderful day!

Best wishes,
Houston and Charlotte

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Suzanne Baldwin

Nell - Have a delightful birthday! If your parents are any indication of what lies in store for you in life, you are truly blessed! I've met you and Glenn only on the occasion of celebrating the milestones of Frank and Dona over the years. I've been impressed by your graciousness, your wisdom, your sense of humor, and the deep sense of love and appreciation that is evident as you interact with your mother and father. Your tears of joy and reverence as you introduced various speakers at the 65th Anniversary party were truly beautiful.

Frank and Dona often speak of how proud they are of you, of how much joy you bring to their lives, and what a blessing it is - particularly for Dona - to share in the experience of writing and publishing.

Enjoy this celebration of your life. Thank you for the gift you are to the world!

Peace and blessings,
Suzanne Baldwin
(The First Church Family)

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Priscilla Barnum & Ted Draper

Six T's for sixty:
   Time for writing,
   Time for painting,
   Time for reflection
   Time for new adventures,
   Time for friendship,
   And Time for tea with us (at Echo Lake)--

Ted and Priscilla

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Emily Belcher

Happy Birthday, Miss Nell.
May you have a celebration worthy of your distinctive personality, commanding intellect, elegance, grace, and witty charm to complete this illustrious occasion.

With warmest best wishes for continued health and rich blessings,
Emily Belcher

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Derrick Bell
  (see photo album)

You must be kidding. Nell simply can't be approaching her 60th birthday. Yes, I met her when I came to Cambridge in 1969 when she was a graduate student in history and, yes, while quite young she did have, even then, an obvious intelligence only partly shielded by a worldly outlook that manifested itself in a quiet wit with a sharp edge. She was self-assured the way so many black women from New York City are self-assured -- a matter of style, a method of self-assertion in an environment where proactive was a way of life long before it was diminished to a figure of speech.

We were quite literally friends in the strenuous effort that all black people at Harvard not totally mesmerized by its outward prestige and its draconian elitism recognized as less a striving for promotion or tenure than a struggle to save our souls. It was not always easy, but we never forgot that our priority was the latter, our nemesis, the former.

What a training ground it was, one we managed to escape -- provoked in one way or another by actions or silences so dismissive of our work and our worth that we simply could not bear to remain. And now, many years later, but surely not that many, Nell has done such wonderful work as teacher, as scholar, as administrator, all marked with her signature committed integrity likely honed out of bitter experiences survived and with sense of self intact.

I see this tribute to Nell as appropriate whether or not it is for one birthday or another. I join those who hail this wonderful model of what we all should want to be.

With great admiration and love,
Derrick Bell

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Patricia Bell-Scott

Nell,

Turning 60 is something I look forward to, especially if I can be like you.

Your brilliance seems sharper each year.

Your natural beauty and self-confidence permeate your every movement.

Your curiosity knows no limit.

And your supportiveness teaches us to catch our own fish.

Love to you, my scholar-writer-sister-friend, on your 60th.
pat bell-scott

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Katherine Benesch & Tom Romer

Happy Birthday, Nell.

I bet you never thought you'd get this far! And, think of how many more you have to go!

So, have a big celebration-with lots of mojitos! Enjoy!

All the best from your now-former neighbors.
Katherine Benesch & Tom Romer

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William J. Bennett

Nell --

My very best to you on your birthday. A celebrated scholar at 30 when I knew you, now you turn 50 (and I won't believe anything else!). May there be many years of productivity ahead of you! Happy birthday!

Best,
Bill Bennett

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Sandra Bermann

Happy Birthday Nell!

Over these many years at Princeton, you have made a big difference in what we teach, how we teach it and even whom we have been able to hire! So along with sincere good wishes comes serious gratitude. I wish for you, our talented and dedicated colleague and friend, a wonderful celebration and many, many happy returns!

Thanks very much.
Sandra

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Louise Bernikow
  (see photo album)

Yo! Yo yo yo!
got a pal her name is Nell
wow her mind is like a bell
face and soul are pretty swell
dear dear sister please do tell
i love you
i love you
happy birthday
many happy birthdays

Louise Bernikow

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Hattie Black
  (see photo album)

Dear Nell,

May the Lord be with you to bless you with much joy and much happiness. When you look at the years behind you, may you see only rainbows and feel only blessings.

Nell you have been an inspiration to me. Happy 60th birthday.

Love,
Hattie

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Bruce Borland

Nell, Chana Kai Lee let me know that Glenn was planning a website as part of a birthday celebration for you. I'm grateful to her for letting me know, and I feel honored to have the opportunity to contribute.

I've really enjoyed knowing you, and I've enjoyed our correspondence. You've taught me so many things. I feel I've grown and changed since I made your acquaintance, and I'm living my life differently because of what I've learned from you.

Thanks to Glenn for coming up with the idea of this website, and getting the word out. What a wonderful idea! My wife and I will both be turning sixty next year, and I'll have to try and think up something equally spectacular. I know you'll have the happiest of birthdays among friends and family.

Best Wishes,
Bruce Borland
Oxford University Press

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Norman Brooks

Dear Nell,

Many of us think we can fly. Many of us believe we can fly. But it is so great to see an eagle who looks like us SOARING. Thanks for being an inspiring role model for so many.

Norman Brooks

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Scott Brooks

How do I refer to you? What should I call you? It is of little importance really.

But I did call out to you. I was looking for help, for some advice, answers, words of wisdom on this thing. What was college all about?

I remember your comfort. You spoke with such ease. I guess I called you Friend. I hung up the phone, feeling less certain about my chances of entering Princeton (which had been my dream) but much more certain of choosing the right place for me.

I attended college and graduated in four short years. I sought you again. Feeling much wiser the second time but still very young in life. I guess I called you Auntie. You were supportive and gave me straight information.

I have read in someone's acknowledgements that they can not possibly list all of the persons that have contributed to their development and the ultimate creation of their creative work because first they do not know all of them by name, and next because the list would be too long. It would be necessary to include all of one's teachers, friends, family and relatives as well as indirect and direct influences on their thoughts.

Shortly, after speaking to Auntie Nell I decided that I wanted to be a professor. It seemed like the perfect career for me. But how did I come to this? How did I develop an understanding of what this would require of me?

I know that I have been influenced by this friend and Auntie that I have never met. Her voice has and continues to grow inside of me, encouraging and advising me. I have only recently begun my doctoral program and already my latest advisor has called the name Nell Painter, as a scholar that has produced work that should serve as models of research. Now I will call you Teacher.

Thanks for planting seeds that the Lord has grown.

Peace and Blessings on your Birthday.
Scott Brooks
Scott N. Brooks
Ph.D. Candidate
Dept. of Sociology
University of Pennsylvania

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Elsa Barkley Brown

Nell,

Having been raised by an amazing group of black women, I grew up believing that 60 was the magical age to be. Knowing you confirms this long held belief. All the best in your 60th and many more!

Love,
ebb

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Tammy Brown

Dear Nell:

You knit
stories
and students,
imaginations
into zephyrs
that ruffle commonplaces
and uncover distant truths

sojourner, herstorian--
painting timeless landscapes
conjuring voices
and the guts and gore
of not so distant places
visaging the faceless--
fellow travelers look on

As you can see, I am exercising my post-generals resolution to revive my poetic side. :-) Such a birthday tribute is fitting because one of the qualities that I admire most is the CREATIVITY you bring to your scholarship and teaching. I also appreciate your generosity, dedication, and energy. One indelible memory from this past semester is of a trip you took on a Tuesday to guest lecture at a university in Texas, because I was amazed at how you still kept your Monday and Wednesday office hours and classes at Princeton! Such commitment is characteristic Painter-style. You always show up, and rest assured that your students notice. Not only do I hope to look that good when I'm your age, but I also hope to have just as much vim and vigor!!!! Happy Birthday!

peace & love,
Tammy L. Brown

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Dorothy Browne

Greetings from one of the members of the "Tina Turner Society." Please tell me that you remember this feisty group of women whose motto was: "We are not getting older--just getting better". Nell, are you getting older? I can not believe that you will be 60 on August 2nd. Last week, I had dinner with Dr. John Hope Franklin, a neighbor and a friend. In fact, John and "Booknotes" are my sources of information regarding your activities--- publications, speaking at Fisk, etc. John shared with me the fact that you would be 60 on your next birthday. I shared with him the fact that your strength and intelligence sustained me when I moved from Harvard in 1981 to assume an academic position at UNC-CH. Although I have not been in touch with you and the other members of the Tina Turner Society, I have followed your successes and triumphs. You, most of all, have been a model for me and I thank you for "showing the way."

Dorothy C. Browne (Howze)
Durham, North Carolina
Retired from UNC-CH--8/1/02

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Beverlee Bruce
  (see photo album)

Dear Nell:

Congratulations on all you have accomplished thus far. I can only imagine the heights you will scale in the future. Although our time at Harvard, where we met, are some years in the past, it seems as though it was just yesterday when you and I shared some memorable occasions in Cambridge: meeting Nieman Fellow Hollie West, driving Chinua Achebe back to Amherst in a torrential rain after his visit at Lowell House where you had invited him to speak, the Black Women’s Symposium at Radcliffe that you signed me up for where I was in your Discussion Group with Lucretia Brown, Marcia Gillespie and Toni Cade Bambara and where Alice Walker whispered her "In Our Mother’s Gardens" piece, and to think I had planned to go to Widener instead. But then, you have always been purposeful and direct, which is why you are successful. One other memory is the day we went to the gym exercised and swam several laps. When we came out on what was a snowy day, we were so vibrant, we felt we could melt the snow and I think we did. Since Harvard I have kept up with your contributions to our historical record. I won’t forget the Brownie points I gained when you came to speak at Howard and the Chairman of the History Department who had invited you realized that you and I knew each other. Another since Harvard memory is our touching base at Chinua Achebe’s Seventieth Birthday and attending his dinner. But most important has been your marshalling support for our friend Claudia. The Princeton Symposium was quite a tribute to her and I know that much of it was the result of your effort.

Well Nell, I look forward to keeping up with you on both a personal level but also in terms of your peerless scholarship that I so look forward to.

Many Happy Returns of the Day.
Beverlee

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D. Graham Burnett

Dear Nell:

Very happy birthday!!

From Graham and Christina

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Mary Ellen Butler

Dear Nell: Those of us who went to high school and college with you and have followed your magnificent career since then are exceedingly proud of your accomplishments and contributions to literature and the field of history. You bring honor to the old home town!

Best wishes for continued happiness, personally and professionally.

Sincerely,
Mary Ellen Butler

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Mark Byrne

Dear Nell:
Bless you on your birthday - with more years and what they bring: more experience, more wisdom, more peace!
You were such an unexpected surprise when you came into our unexpected household back in Kansas back then. What a strange little group we were and you arrived with your gifts and your heart! I remember your great common sense, your patient kindness. Your first mission was to get rid of the furniture - and then you continued to give direction to the family - Glenn and the children, me hovering around. How funny to think I was the nanny at the wedding in Princeton! And your visit to Rome years later. I always found it so easy to talk with you despite our different visions of life - moreso than many whom you'd expect to share my vision. I was grateful for that. Calm assurance, a great smile, a desire for truth. These qualities are not common anymore but you have them. I am grateful to God that I have known you. That sweater you knitted me ended up being worn by one of our young nuns in Rome. I said to her one day, "You might be interested to know the person behind the sweater." In the world's eyes, we are very different people. In God's eyes, maybe we are much closer than we realize. And I hope that will all be realized when all our years in this world and all our birthdays are past.

Love and my blessing.

Fr. Mark Byrne, solt
Precious Blood Church
Buffalo, New York

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Eduardo Cadava

Dear Nell,

I was delighted to hear about your birthday and to hear that Glenn was making it possible for your friends and admirers to send you our warmest wishes on this birthday.

I hope that your summer has been full of pleasure and relaxation, and I hope that you experience this birthday as another register of all the beautiful and wondrous things you have accomplished, done, enjoyed, and given to everyone around you.

I am in Athens right now, so 'chronia polla,' Nell. I thank you for everything that you are.

I'll return to Princeton in mid-August and let's plan on having a celebratory lunch soon after we're both back. It would be nice to see you and to catch up on everything.

Take care,
Eduardo

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Leslie Callahan

Happy birthday, Nell.

There is so much that I admire about your person and your work: your generosity, your ingenuity, your hospitality, your mentoring, your connectedness, your independence, your humor, your honesty, your integrity, your dogged determination, your flexibility, your hard work, your ease and grace. I often say that I want to be like you when I grow up.

Thank you for awakening the historian in me and starting her on her way.

Leslie D. Callahan

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Hazel Carby

Dearest Nell, I send my love and deepest admiration on the occasion of your 60th birthday. Wow, you look so good too! Hugs and kisses. Hazel

Hazel V. Carby
Department of African American Studies
Yale University

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Clay Carson

Dear Nell,

How could you be sixty when I still think of you as one of the younger generation of historians that I belong to? How quickly the years have passed by. Have we already reached the age when it's difficult to remember the time we first met? Was it in North Carolina, when you were working on the Hosea Hudson book? In any case, it seems that our careers have intersected in so many different and wonderful ways. I've always admired you and everything you have produced during your stellar career. If there is any regret about my years at Stanford, it is that I failed in my attempt to bring you here (Stanford's loss rather than yours).

We have not had many opportunities to extended discussions over the years (it's never too late!), but I have vivid memories of those occasions when we could have extended talks about our mutual interests. You have influenced me (in good ways) more than you'll ever know and are a special person who deserves all the accolades you will receive on your birthday.

Please accept my best wishes and love as you begin a new period of your life.

Clay Carson

Professor Clayborne Carson
Director, Martin Luther King, Jr., Papers Project
Stanford University

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Nancy Cartwright

Dear Nell

Much love, hugs and kisses from far away friends...Nancy, Emily and Sophie Cartwright (and Emily's little girl, Lucy) and Stuart Hampshire. And many many happy returns.

Nancy

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Barbara Chase-Riboud

Dear Nell, Happy Birthday and 60 more! By now you will have received your birthday present I sent to your P.O. Box in Vermont with all our affection and respect. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

I miss you and love you,

Barbara

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Nancy Clapp-Channing

Happy 60th, my life long beach buddie!

Many years ago in Chapel Hill you said you weren't fearful of aging, in fact you looked forward to it.... Well, you've been down a few more tracks than I..., but this is sent with lots of love and best wishes that this birthday and the decade that follows offers the time to "put it all together"! What a rich life you've woven, and how lucky I am to have been one of the strands all these years, starting at the "round tables" at Leo's Pizza!

A toast to life and friendship,
Nancita

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Bettye Collier-Thomas

Dear Nell,

Today you will celebrate another milestone in what has been a wonderful life filled with numerous achievements and great success. Your life, career, and persona have served as a model for many aspiring scholars, particularly women, seeking ways to negotiate the thickets of the academy and to achieve their personal and professional goals.

We first met during the early 1970s at the annual meeting of either the OAH or the AHA. However, your impact on me and my career as a historian began around 1974 or 1975 at the OAH meeting in Washington, D.C., where I presented a paper on Harvey Johnson and the Brotherhood of Liberty. I have never forgotten your liberal praise and enthusiasm for my work on that occasion, and am more than grateful for the support you have given me throughout the years. Among the many things that I admire about you, it is your sheer honesty that has meant so much to me. While you offered me praise, you also gave me advice and suggested strategies for achieving some of my academic and scholarly goals. It is because of you and Charles (1990) that I shifted from collecting data to publishing books. And, earlier this year when I was very depressed over my mother's death, you sent me a note and said "now you are an orphan." I laughed and was energized by the comment. Of course, your wit and humor equal your scholarship.

I also have pleasant memories of your visits to Washington and the time you spent with us at Tewkesbury Place. On one occasion you were locked out and instead of getting upset you simply stretched out on the front porch and napped until we arrived home. I have always admired your practicality and patience.

You are not getting older, but better! Last September at the ABWH luncheon you spoke about your plans for life after the academy. On that occasion you provided salient advice to women scholars, young and old, about how to succeed in the academy without being stressed out. And, you also talked about how to move forward with grace and continue to enjoy life in retirement. You will never fully know the impact of your speech on that occasion. However, I can assure you it was great.

Happy 60th birthday Nell! Best wishes to you and Glenn.

Sincerely,
Bettye Collier-Thomas

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Lupe Copendah

Dear Nell,

You are approaching a major event in your life, and as you do, I wish you the very best. May your 60th birthday be filled with unlimited joy, love, peace of mind prosperity, and ecstasy. I am blessed to know you. Many blessings to you, and happy 60th birthday. Love and blessings.

Lupe Copendah
First Church Family

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Nancy Cott

Dear Nell -- you got so much done in only 60 years, and while looking so glamourous too! my very warmest wishes on this round birthday. May you reach a century! And relish the wisdom thereby gained . . . Enjoy, enjoy!

As always,
Nancy Cott

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Anastasia Curwood

Nell, it's such a pleasure to be offering you a tribute for your 60th birthday. I can't express how much I respect your scholarship, mentoring, and zest for life. I have a deep appreciation for your unfailing encouragement and belief in my abilities as a historian. You have been there for me without fail from my first days at Princeton, generously giving advice, reassurance, Thanksgiving dinners, and, when necessary, firm motivational prodding! As a world citizen, I am grateful for the incredibly creative thinking that you do about the present and the past, and I am constantly impressed by your openness to new ways of understanding. Your personal and intellectual vitality will always be a model for the kind of person I want to be.

We are all very lucky to have you. Congratulations on your first sixty years, and my very best wishes for the next.

Love,
Anastasia Curwood

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Jane Dailey

Dearest Nell,

If you are sixty all I can say is, bring it on!

IÕve been dilatory in writing to you, enjoying reading what others have written. This combination birthday greeting-testimonial is a tricky genre. Many of your students have written of the gifts you have given us: your knowledge, your wit, your genuine, hard-earned wisdom. I wonder if you have any real appreciation of your effect on our lives. (Particularly during your vegan periodÉ.) Not that you haven't learned from us as well. I know, for instance, that after me you asked all your graduate students, "Are you using birth control?"

I would like to wish you (and David joins in as well) a very, very happy birthday. I wish you, my teacher Nell Irvin Painter, many long years with us. You should keep on knitting, and enjoy art school, but not deprive us entirely of your thoughts in the form of words.

With tremendous affection and admiration,
Jane

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John Daves

Happy Birthday Professor Painter! I was so pleased to hear from Glenn and to have a small part in the birthday celebration and the birth of your website. Your career was an inspiration before I met you and you became much more of one after I started coming to the seminars.

Coming to the seminars at Princeton not only became a pleasurable learning experience for me, but they also gave me the opportunity to get to know you. Your kindness and support were crucial in my development. I will never forget the opportunity to be on a panel discussion with you on Thomas Jefferson's Affair with Sally Hemings. After the panel discussion, I began to feel that I could become a scholar. If you had that much belief in my capabilities, I knew that I could find the confidence in myself. Consequently, I would talk about you and the panel discussion with my father. Since I was in high school, he has left articles on my bed from the New York Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The New Yorker about what is happening in academia. He has always been impressed with your scholarship. As you know, my father attends the seminars and we often discuss the role you played in my intellectual growth. We cannot thank you enough.

I want to give you a quick update. Professor Peterson is my dissertation advisor. I am also working with Professor Caughey on a Life History project. I am beginning to do research and to form a narrative about growing up in a black family of teachers and scholars that begins before the Civil War. Along with my research, The American Studies Department has provided me with an opportunity to create my own Core Courses.

I would love to hear about your courses. I understand that you are currently teaching and doing research on Whiteness. Again, Happy Birthday Professor Painter! I miss being able to come to Princeton and talk to you. I hope to hear from you soon. Although I may not have said this enough, you have meant a great deal to me and to my father.

Sincerely,
John Daves

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Natalie Davis

Hail to you, Nell, on this 60th birthday, part of a brilliant life of beauty and achievement. We think of you going strong, vibrant and insightful, bringing new understanding to the past and good values, warmth, and hope for the present and the future.

Love from Natalie Davis, enthusiastically seconded by Chandler Davis

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Thadious Davis
  (see photo album)

My Dear Nell,

There are turning points in life: the years, the events, the people, the places, even the emotions. Long-lived friendship comes with images, some grainy, some surreal, but all caught in the curve of the heart. Scrolling back over nearly 30 years, I remember you, Nell, in the 1970s--smart, savvy, spirited, sensitive-- like the strong women who survive hurricane season to build anew. I see you now in 2002--smart, savvy, spirited, sensitive--like the heroines of our yesterdays and tomorrows. And I am amazed at how much you have remained you, your very own self, even as you have transformed yourself--growing, thickening, deepening (OK, graying too!). I am still surprised by your optimism and determination to untangle the wilds and tame the rivers-- or the snakes. In turning 60, you are rounding the curve of transformation. I wish you every joy and great serenity in a turning point that opens out to new pleasures and all possibilities.

With love and admiration on your special day,
Thad

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Jane De Hart

Dear Nell,
When I first met you when you were at Penn, the possibility of either of us turning sixty seemed as remote as an afterlife. But it has happened. The intervening years have been immeasurably enriched for me by your friendship, sharing those years as colleagues at UNC, and a longer relationship as members of the UNC Press Gender and Culture Series. Enjoy the big 60 and remember Emily Dickinson's "We turn not older with years, but newer with everyday." Happy Birthday, my dear. And may there be many more!
Cheers,

Jane

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Jennifer Delton

For the past six decades Nell has served this planet in her capacity as herself and we are all better off for it. A person who reminds us how the lives of ordinary people have shaped the world we live in, we should not be surprised at the enormous impact her own life has had on others. I have always felt unduly fortunate in having found Nell as a mentor and teacher, or as it seemed then having Nell find me. When I first met Nell I was overawed by her beauty, her style, her vast knowledge of things weighty and arcane, and the authority and clarity with which she spoke. Despite this daunting perfection, she turned out to be one of the warmest, most loyal, most generous and giving people I had ever met. She had this way of making it seem as though your work mattered, as though what you had to say might somehow change everything - if only you could first address a series of questions and problems she laid out before you. Which is to say she demanded the most of you. I have counted on her skepticism and her insistence that I be clear about whom it is I am speaking, with the consequence that every sentence I write I hear her voice behind me, softly, "ALL women, Jennifer?" As her student, however, I was denied one opportunity: the opportunity to join my peers in their grievances as graduate students. Many a long night I listened to grousing, complaints, long sessions of the travails of advising relationships unfulfilled. But I could never join in. I was an outlier. I had no complaints. My adviser read my chapters promptly. My adviser provided ample and useful criticism. My adviser promoted my interests. My adviser cared. But the real point here is not so much how my life is better for having met Nell, but that she showed me how people do good in the world, how they can be friends and mentors, so that I would in turn try to live up to that model of duty, truth-seeking, and public-mindedness that she so beautifully embodies. So cheers, Nell. Happy Sixtieth, from one of your fiercely devoted students, Jennifer.

Jennifer Delton
Skidmore College

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Jeanette & René Demeestere

To my Dear Friend Nell, Sister of Time & Place & People in Our Lives:

Berkeley … Bordeaux … Paris … Marthas Vineyard … Berlin
… "My husband teaches at a business school but he's really a mathematician!" …
Sojourner Truth … Else Lasker-Schüler … ART …
May our lives keep on joining and our friendship keep on growing.
On t'embrasse très fort, Joyeux Anniversaire Nell,

Jeanette & René Demeestere

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Art & Elizabeth Dempster

Dear Nell:

Birthday greetings. Your 7th decade and beyond is shaping up as full of new, happy, and productive things, and we wish you all the best in your endeavors. We look forward to getting together with you and Glenn here or in NJ.

Sincerely,
Art & Elizabeth Dempster

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Lita Carmen DeSeville

To Professor Nell, The "Princeton U Birthday Belle".

I'm sending a barrel of good wishes your way, to help celebrate your special day, in grand and glorious style, the occasion of (reaching) your 60th Birthday mile! So sip a glass of champagne or two and I will raise my glass in toast to you, Professor Nell, The "Birthday Belle" of Princeton U.

Love and Hugs,
Lita Carmen DeSeville,
The First Church Family,
Oakland, California.

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Shalanda Dexter
  (see photo album)

Kahlil Gibran writes in his book The Prophet that, "You give but little when you give of possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. There are those who have little and give it all. These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, their coffer is never empty. Through the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth." As I join in the celebration of your 60th birthday, I wanted to thank you for your giving spirit. God has not only given you the gift of intelligence but more importantly a compassionate and loving heart. It has almost been a decade since I met you. You cared enough to reach out to a shy and insecure students and mentor her to become a scholar like yourself. Thank you so much for giving more than what was required and caring more than was expected. Your spirit and presence lives in my work and my relationship with my own students. May God's blessings rest upon your life and know that I love you dearly."

Shalanda Dexter

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Gloria Dickinson
  (see photo album)

Dear Nell,

Wishing you a Sensational and Significant Sixtieth! We all continue to learn, and grow and you shower us with your limitless gifts of scholarship and "sister-frienship."

All the best from your "fellow-Leo"
Gloria

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Hasia Diner

Nell:

First a hearty happy birthday! Milestones are wonderful and appropriate moments to not only take stock of ourselves, but allow the world to praise us. And praise is what you deserve. Your elegance, your articulateness, your deep scholarship and broad humanity put you in a category unto yourself. Your writings --EXODUSTERS and STANDING AT ARMAGEDDON, the ones I know best-- are exemplars of close research and broad vision, of care with detail and a wide lens on the meanings we can derive from the past. Your writing and your speaking come together in a "package" of real class. You are a tough act to follow, but you set a standard that we all have to measure ourselves against.

Bravo for your contribution, and as we say in Hebrew: "ad meah v'esrim" --until 120!

My best for this year and for many to come:

Hasia

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Nancy DiTomaso

Dear Nell,
Happy 60th Birthday! I have enjoyed the opportunity to get to know you, to learn of the wonderful work you are doing, and to share, however briefly, some of my ideas and concerns as well. In pursuit of a path I can no longer recall for my book project, I picked up Standing at Armageddon (great title!) and was exceptionally impressed with the lucid and beautiful writing, in addition to the insight and scholarship of the book. I have since enjoyed the occasional "family letter" or "travelogue," with the same clear and clever text. I have happily observed your joy in the evolution of your work and your relationship with your family. And, I have appreciated the invitations to stop by or join a party when our calendars merged. Although the work I am doing is not historical, as such, there are obviously important overlaps in themes and frameworks in the work I have been trying to do and what you have done and expect to do. I have felt enriched by learning of your work, and I have been delighted to learn as well of your prominence, influence, and stature in the field. The more women; the more black women; and the more responsible, caring, and sensible women at the top, the better it will be for all of us. Hope you have at least 60 more years!
With warm regards,

Nancy DiTomaso
Rutgers Business School

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Ellen DuBois

Dear Nell: Your sixtieth birthday is more than your sixtieth birthday; it is a milestone for all of us. I have gotten so much out of the ideas and mentoring and dilemmas we have shared. You have my unqualified respect and friendship, Dear Nell. Here's to many future mutual enrichments and to your own well-deserved enjoyment of your innumerable contributions.

Love,
Ellen DuBois
Los Angeles, CA

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Ann duCille

Dear Nell,

Happy Birthday, you brilliant, goregous gal! Sixty never looked so good.

Love and best wishes,
Ann duCille

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Heddye Ducree

Happy Birthday, Nell

May your brillance continue to shine and enrich the minds and lives of those who are touched by your genius and spirit! Your quiet dignity and sensitivity are qualities that I have admired over the years. I recall with a smile and a grateful heart your thoughtfulness and concern for my health and well-being several years ago. Simply an example of your caring nature in the midst of all you have to do! You have given of yourself in other significant ways to so many of us at Princeton...always inspiring, cautioning, educating, and motivating us to higher heights. Thank you, my friend.

Wishing you good health, continued success, inner peace and love,

Heddye Ducree
Director, Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding
Princeton University

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Harry Dunbar

As an admirer of the scholarship of Nell Irvin Painter, I count it a great privilege as well as a pleasure to join in this 60th birthday tribute to her. As a student of Prof. Painter's work, I have sought to understand how she arrived at the perspective she holds. It is clear to me that family was the venue that was most influential and that she must have been raised in one of those happy families that Tolstoy characterized as "all alike," which experience allowed her to develop the keen understanding evident in her work and the supportive sensibility demonstrated by her extensive mentoring. I am pleased to add my voice to others from the scholarly community in extending "Best wishes for many happy returns!" to Professor Painter.

I also join in extending best wishes to Dona and Frank Painter on their 65th wedding anniversary celebrated earlier this year and congratulate them on the achievements of their daughter.

Harry B. Dunbar
Dunbar On Black Books
<www.queenhyte.com/dobb.html>

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Troy Duster

Dear Nell,

Warmest best wishes and Happy Birthday greetings.

Happily, for someone with your talents and skills, and for the "life of the mind" -- it does get even better!!

a big hug,
Troy Duster

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Marcia & Michael Dyson

Dear Nell:

We don't want to be impolite, but forgive us if we briefly wallow in disbelief at the news that you are about to celebrate your sixtieth birthday! Although that's a milestone of which you should be darned proud, we're just amazed that you're a day over forty-five. You look marvelous! Happy Birthday!

Nell, you probably don't realize just how influential you have been in our lives. You have set a standard of scholarly achievement that has been a beacon to the generations that have come after you. We have often turned to your work to learn about periods and personalities that have been overlooked, undervalued or misinterpreted. We marvel at the clarity and brilliance of your mind, the eloquence of your prose, and the depth of your research. Your words are bathed in wise and critical judgment. Your insights leap off the page and change how we view the past we thought we new and beckon us to consider a past we never knew existed.

If your scholarship is remarkable, your commitment to nurturing younger scholars is equally extraordinary. In an academy rife with pettiness and backbiting, you have managed to remain steady in your praise and support of the worthy novice. Although we have never enjoyed the opportunity to literally sit at your feet, we have felt the reach of your interest and basked in the good reports you have sent our way. We have encountered so many younger scholars who say the same. They constantly remark on your incredible loyalty, your high standards, your insistence that they discover their best, and your ongoing support once they have begun their careers.

What is winning about you is that in a profession dominated by old guys and even older ideas about howto behave, you have truly outdone Sinatra and have done it your way. Your irreverence is splendid, your fearlessness simply edifying. I (Mike) can remember the first time I met you, in a lecture hall at Princeton as a second-year graduate student during a lecture given by a potential colleague as the school was recruiting you. You sat there knitting, and I watched your attention to detail and your care for style that also mark your books. And when the lecturer was done, you posed the most penetrating and provocative question, peeking over your glasses as you pressed your point. It was riveting, not only showing that you were a doyenne of multi-tasking before it gained vogue, but it gave all of us grad students the courage to be independent and contrary if need be. I suppose I can blame you, then, for my King book, if not for its contents, then surely for its spirit!

Nell, we are pleased to announce that you have shown us some skills that would make Ms. Cleo envious! I (Marcia) remember that you bet me twenty dollars that I wouldn't be able to remain in Chapel Hill for long. Well, after Providence, Rhode Island, I wasn't convinced you could possibly be right. I was determined to prove that my money was safe, but your crystal ball finally prevailed, although I never paid you. I'll have to make good on our bet and take you to dinner now that we're within shouting distance.

In the end, it is just how you exist in the world that warms our hearts and causes us to praise God that she brought you to us, to the world, to give us an idea of how to live your life with style and substance. You are what we dream to be when we dare think we can do half of what you have done with as much fortitude and courage. We love you, Nell, and we wish you every good thing on your birthday, and sixty more years to sing your song!

Love,
Marcia & Michael Dyson

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Mary Enright & Dave Carroll

Nell,

So another birthday is upon you! You have a lot to celebrate - a life full of gifts - beauty, intelligence, accomplishments, and a loving husband! (Glenn didn't make me say that.)

We'll miss you and Glenn when you leave Princeton but hope we'll see you in your new home.

Happy Birthday
Mary Enright

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Crystal Feimster
  (see photo album)

My Dearest Nell,

Happy 60th Birthday!!!

I hope that after six decades I will have accomplished at least half as much as you have and look so Good! You are truely one amazing woman. Your wisdom, kindness, support, love, and encouragment have sustained me for almost a decade. I can't begin to tell you how you have and continue to impact my life. We both know that I'm a historian because of you. You made survival at Princeton possible and completion of the dissertation a reality. I will not recount the horrors of that first year at Princeton, but I will say you were the only reason I didn't drop out. I can't thank you enough.

I hope this next decades brings you more than you've ever imagined and all the happiness you deserve.

Celebrate! Celebrate! Celebrate!

All My Love,
Crystal

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Neil Foley

Dear Nell,

I had to go to Berlin for a year to finally meet you and have you all to myself for some memorable lunches. Thank you for being the inspiration you have been, and continue to be, to generations of scholars. Ich gratuliere Dir zum Geburtstag und wuensche Dir alles Gute.

Neil Foley
University of Texas

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Judith Jackson Fossett

Dearest Nell,

Clayton, Alden and I send you warmest salutations from Southern California! We send a virtual birthday gift of gratitude for your presence in our lives.

Thank you for being my teacher. Thank you for providing a peerless model of scholarly integrity and productivity. Thank you for offering wise counsel. Thank you for showcasing the talents of others. Thank you for welcoming young scholars into your circle of intellectual peers that reaches far beyond the Princeton Borough limits. Thank you for welcoming my family into the wondrous world of yours, especially into the orbit of Frank and Dona.

Six years ago we spent an afternoon together in Beverly Hills (during your book tour for the Truth biography) when I was still a green Angeleno, having only been in Los Angeles for two months. I was earning a paycheck; I was finally able to take you to lunch! I thought of that afternoon as a lovely bookend to my graduate days as I began my stint as assistant professor. Little did I know that that meeting was merely one of many in the last six years; that it was a beginning to a new and richer stage in our relationship. Please always know what a difference you have made in my academic life. It is the gift you keep on giving to all those around you, and one for which I am truly grateful.

Have the happiest of birthdays! And best wishes to Glenn and the rest of your family.

With love and warmest wishes,
Judith Jackson Fossett

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Jim & Lillian Fox

Happy Birthday Nell,

Congratulations on reaching this milestone in your life. You have achieved much in your years and we are sure that you have much more to add to your list of accomplishments. We have always enjoyed the times you and Glenn have spent at our house.

We are happy for you and wish you many, many more Happy Birthdays.

Remember, the hot tub is always ready for you.
Jim & Lillian Fox

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John Hope Franklin

Dear Nell,
Let's see, can you recall the first time we met? Was it at the University of Pennsylvania? I think so. In any case, we have met many, many times since, and each meeting has been a happy and rewarding experience. Each meeting has deepened my admiration for who you are and what you do. I believe that you and I view history in similar ways; to illuminate and interpret the past in order to "map" what we think the future should be. At least that is what I glean from your work, and that is what I try to do with mine. This note is to wish you the happiest birthday you have ever had and to hope that each succeeding one will surpass its predecessor. You are starting on a high note--touring the Gaspe Peninsula. Do not come down from that high anytime soon. Much love, and best wishes to you and Glenn.

Sincerely,
John Hope Franklin
June 3, 2002

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Julia Furlow

What a person, what a mentor, what a scholar! It gives me joy just to know you! From skinny legs to preteen blushing, to Sunday School discussions, you have become the epitome of excellence in history, sociology, plus loyalty to those back home who stick out our proud chests in pride and glory. Thank you! I just can't say enough good things about you. You've transcended them all. Stay close to God! We all love you.

Julia Furlow of Downs Church

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Kevin Gaines

Happy 60th birthday, Nell!

As a scholar and mentor, you have set a standard for excellence that places you in the most rarefied and select company. I will always be grateful for your incisive and extremely helpful criticism as I was finishing my book. I know that I am just one of the many who have benefited from your invaluable advice and assistance. I was most fortunate to have you as a mentor and colleague at the start of my career. Back then, you and Glenn brought a great deal of warmth and fun to African American studies in a refreshingly un-Princetonlike manner. Your innovative study Exodusters not only revolutionized our understanding of African American political behavior, but has also provided a model for critical analyses of black leadership. Your biography of Sojourner Truth (a return to the enigmatic figure who made a brief appearance in Exodusters) is a meticulous and elegant account of Truth's life and legacy. In addition, your _Truth_ brilliantly illuminates the vexed intersection between African American and womenUs histories and the complex relationship between social activism, memory, authenticity, and historical writing. Your scholarship has advanced and enriched the field of Black studies, particularly through its rigorous attention to gender issues. Your contributions to the historical profession, to the Black studies intellectual tradition, and to the good fight, are a fitting tribute to your own mentors, and such forerunners as W.E.B. DuBois, Paul Robeson, Lorraine Hansberry, E. Franklin Frazier, and John Hope Franklin. After all is said and done, it is your distinguished record as teacher, scholar, public intellectual and advisor for so much pathbreaking scholarship that will inspire the admiration and awe of future generations.

Kevin

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Skip Gates

Dear Nell:

My admiration for your mastery of the art and science of historiography is matched only by the depth of my respect for your integrity, and your undaunted spirit. I wish you good health, the greatest happiness, and a long and productive life of the mind.

Happy Birthday!
Skip Gates

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Glenda Gilmore
   (see photo album)

Dear Nell, Happy Birthday! I remember the two lobsters that I ate on your 50th, and the great time we had. Hope this day is as happy.

Love,
Glenda Gilmore
Yale University

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Paula Giddings

I've been told this is the site to wish Nell a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Hope you're doing great Nell. I'm now at Smith and enjoying it.

Take care,
Paula

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Eagle Glassheim

Dear Nell,

It has been a pleasure to have in you a colleague who suggests what Princeton can be at its best: challenging, willing to try new things, critical. I wish you and the values you embody a long and happy reign in the years to come.

Eagle Glassheim
Princeton

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William Gleason

Dear Nell -- What a grand day! Happy 60th! We're so very lucky to have you as a colleague -- best wishes for a wonderful celebration!

All best,
Bill Gleason
Department of English

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Annette Gordan-Reed

Dear Nell,

I wish you much joy on your 60th (!?) birthday. You are an inspiration to me, and I know to countless others. I have enjoyed the too few occasions we've been together -- which tend to revolve around discussions of Thomas Jefferson. You will probably remember the very interesting evening we spent with Barbara Chase-Riboud.

I look forward to your future work, participating in discussions with you (on TJ related matters and not) and contacting you for wise counsel.

Health and happiness to you for years to come!

Best,
Annette

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Kali Nicole Gross

Dear Nell,

You are an inspiring black woman, historian, and scholar. Your work powerfully influences my scholarship, as it possesses a precise analysis of labor, race, gender, sexuality, and oppression in African-American Studies. Bold and transformative, your research unflinchingly explores the murky depths of liberty, bigotry, and historical memory. But perhaps more impressive than this, is your commitment to mentor young scholars- those within your institution and those, like me, who seek you out because of your contributions to the field and the academy. Although many established scholars claim the practice, few ever truly guide graduate students and young scholars through the landmines embedded in higher education. You speak with wisdom and candor always, and it is this characteristic that I appreciate most of all. Whatever your verdict, one can be sure that it will be frank, clear, and trustworthy. This type of integrity requires a level of courage that is rare. Thanks for being all of these things and for taking the time to help me.

Happy Birthday Sisterfire!

Warmly,
Kali
PS - Tell Ms. Dona that I hope I look that good now!

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Ramón Gutiérrez

Nell at 60. What a wonderful event that must be. Wish I could be there in person to celebrate, to make a wish for 60 more, and to glory in your life and accomplishment.

Kisses, warm wishes,
Ramón Gutiérrez

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Adam Gussow

Dear Nell--

Not merely to have survived, but to have prevailed: fearless and original thinker, inspired and inspiring teacher, prime mover of African American Studies at Princeton, AND a fan of country music! What a joyous occasion this birthday is! You are the reference standard for an intellectual engagement grounded in uncommon sense. Thanks for the wonderful example you've set, the enlivening lectures you've graced us with, and the irksome, needed questions with which you've repeatedly challenged us. Many blessings on this birthday and the many to follow.

in friendship and fellowship,
Adam Gussow
Assistant Professor
English & Southern Studies
The University of Mississippi

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Debra Newman Ham

Thank you Nell for being a gracious, productive and exacting scholar, a mentor, and a friend. Your leadership of Black women historians as well as Black women's history itself has revolutionized the field. Since the Association of Black Women Historians was in its infancy, you gave of your time and your funds to keep it going.

You have taken time to nurture many students, including myself. You encouraged me when I was at Boston University in the 1970s. You have read two of my voluminous manuscripts making copious comments and suggestions and have not flailed me because those manuscripts are not yet in print. I pray that they will soon be sitting on a publisher's desk.

I salute your commitment to excellence. I am grateful for the blows you took for us because you were in the vanguard. I sincerely hope that you will continue to be relentless in your quest for truth.

God bless you,
Debra Newman Ham
Professor of History
Morgan State University

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Evelynn Hammonds

Dear Nell,
As a young scholar your work was so important to helping me believe that I could be a historian. In the years since we met you have continued to be for me a shining example of the best kind of scholar -- one who pushes the boundaries of the scholarship while nurturing students to do their very best work. It has been a real joy to be your colleague and to watch you soar!! Have a wonderful, wonderful birthday!!

Evelynn Hammonds
Assoc. Prof. of the History of Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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Camilla Hardmeyer

Glenn: PLEASE INCLUDE MY WARMEST BIRTHDAY WISHES TO NELL ON THE EVENT OF HER 60TH BIRTHDAY. SHE IS A GREAT INSPIRATION TO ME. MUCH LOVE TO NELL AND TO YOU.

CAMILLA

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Sharon Harley

Dear Nell,

I join a host of other scholars to honor you on your 60th birthday and love you for being a giant of a scholar, and even more wonderful sister friend.

Love,
Sharon Harley

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Lucy & Gil Harman

Dearest Nell,

Happy 60th Birthday!!! We have loved having you as a neighbor and friend and talking about everything from knitting to Lacan. Best wishes for the next 60 years!

Love,
Lucy & Gil Harman

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Dirk Hartog

Having Nell Painter as a colleague and a friend has been one of the great pleasures of my time at Princeton. Amid an excess of Princetonian civility, Nell is there to remind us that there are things worth fighting about. And she models an honest, engaged, self-revealing intellectual life. It's not always fun to be on the wrong end of Nell's anger, but it is always "educational," a learning experience as we used to say. And the writing and the scholarship is always "essential": bracing, challenging, brimming with the "next new thing," and interesting.

Happy birthday, Nell. And here's to many many more. I hope the move to Newark ends up keeping you happy at Princeton (There's a New Jersey paradox for you.), perhaps even giving us more time together.

Dirk

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Aleta Hayes

Nell Painter- Your name evokes a constellation of thoughts about our friendship and your mentorship.

When you first asked me to collaborate as a co-lecturer in AAS 201-Introduction to African American Cultural Practices, I had little idea of how that opportunity would impact my life, nor that it would lead me to find a special niche at Princeton University as an artist AND a scholar. Later this experience and your guidance led me to develop my own courses combining African American expressive culture, performance theory, history, and composition lab for the program. You acknowledged me as a peer, a challenge which I was obliged to meet, but I was also a student observing a master teacher and intellect.

Always pushing scholarship and the approach to it both idealogically and politically, you nurture interdisciplinary synthesis in yourself and in others alongside rigorous study and application. By your actions, you encouraged recognition of the creative arts and its importance in the academy.

You have also been a supportive friend and a much appreciated fan of my performance career. Imagine my surprise when you rolled up to the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in your new black Saab convertible last summer. Your presence brought the two seemingly disparate sides of my working life into one.

In the performance world, we distinguish a colleague who has mastered their form and who leads and inspires others through the persistence of their vision, by the title-virtuoso.

How might we say that in the hallowed halls of the academic world? Prof. Nell Painter.

Best wishes,
Aleta Hayes
Lecturer, Council of the Humanities, Princeton University
Lecturer, Dance Department, Rutgers University

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Nancy Hewitt

Dear Nell, You are the youngest 60 year old I know, although you have offered the wisdom of elders for some time now and produced a body of work that suggests you must be at least 90. I am so pleased that we have been able to share both habitat--Penn, North Carolina, New Jersey--over these past decades, and habitus--that sense of community that comes from falling in love with Sojourner Truth and Amy and Isaac Post. I'm sure they are up there somewhere toasting you on your birthday.

With great affection and esteem,
Nancy

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Cheryl Hicks
   (see photo album)

Dear Nell,

Wishing you all the best on your 60th birthday!!!! You certainly wear your age well and I hope that you have a wonderful day full of celebration and joy.

Along with sending you birthday wishes, I want to thank you for all of your support and encouragement throughout the years. Your presence in my life has certainly meant a lot as I have grown tremendously under your tutelage. As a young woman entering graduate school directly from college, in hindsight, I can honestly say that I had no idea of what I was getting into when I decided to become an historian. Naively, I believed that my love for history and research would get me through the various stages of graduate school yet I quickly learned that I also needed guidance and training. Indeed, your sage academic advice and sound pedagogical methods shaped my graduate school experience and currently influences my research as well as how I teach my own students.

Along with the relationships that you cultivate with students and junior faculty, your dedication to the field and especially your scholarship provides a particularly salient model for all historians. Producing major texts from your research interests in southern, African American, U.S., and women's history, you have influenced scores of scholars. When I think about your impact on my own work, I know that many of my queries regarding race, class, gender, and sexuality stemmed from your scholarship, graduate seminars, reading groups, and office hour chats.

I am continually impressed and motivated by your success as a productive, focused, and distinguished scholar-teacher (who really cares). Thank you. I am so glad that Glenn thought of this wonderful forum to help you celebrate your birthday while providing me and your other fans with a great opportunity to express how much we truly appreciate you.

I wish you all the best on your special day.

Love,
Cheryl

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Iris Tillman Hill
   (see photo album)

Dear Nell,

I'd just come to UNC Press in early September 1980, and Lewis Bateman invited George and me to go with him to a party you were giving for the History Department. You were renting one of those 1920s colonial houses you see in Chapel Hill, just off Ransom Street, near the University, in a lovely, old neighborhood of twisting, tree-shaded streets. Whenever I drive past that corner on Ransom Street, I remember the night of your party, and how your house dropped below the sidewalk as though it was retreating from the road. And I recall some of the lovely parties you gave and how much I miss you. I think about your knitting, your jewelry, your great shoes, your flashing smile, your penetrating eyes, your perfectly shaped head, your intense conversation, your unflagging energy, and your honesty, and I know that I should have listened to you Nell! You do give the best advice.

I remember Boothe Hill, once way out in the country, where you built a contemporary house to your exacting specifications. The burnished red brick floors, the deep golden Mexican tiles in your kitchen, all the natural wood, the screen porch (where you had more wonderful parties) but most of all I remember your bathroom, not for what was inside but for what was outside of it, namely the shower on the deck. There you are again, dazzling, magically clicking knitting needles, making something happen to strings of yarn, and you are thinking. Knitting was so women's college of the 50s, and there you were doing it, stereotypes be damned. Years ago the Raleigh News and Observer devoted many pages to an anniversary conference for W. J. Cash's Mind of the South, at Wake Forest U. Pages of heavy commentary, but what do I remember? Oh, yes, the comments about the professor who was knitting through the conference. Nell, I do owe you for taking me to Bluenose Wools on Rosemary St where I later took my mother, who up until I got to know you was the only other woman I have known to knit no matter what was going on about her.

I remember sitting in a restaurant, the old Sunshine, a Chapel Hill throwback to the 60s now long gone, and it's the early/mid 80s, and I am talking to you about a book series on women's studies. I figured you could do anything you set your mind to, and you could, so you did. That's the other part of all these memories the ambitious and daring books you've written and shared so generously. The work you've encouraged. The terrific young scholars you've nurtured and mentored. I always admired your great pleasure in the success of others. You encouraged your friends to write their books and you read their manuscripts with care. You were there to spur on your mother to write her story. Then there was Maine a long ago Labor Day weekend. George and I arrived to glorious weather and landscape. Your "camp" by the lake with its Blue Heron. We had terrific conversations -- you were running around the lake and writing another book.

There are lots more stories and people. I remember your telling me about Glenn after you returned from Stanford and then your most beautiful wedding in Princeton. You've traveled so many places over the years since you left Chapel Hill. I would see you at meetings and on some other very special occasions, but you've been long away, and I've been living a life that seems very far removed. Well, another day will bring a different opportunity. Maybe I'll return to live in Brooklyn, across the East River. Do you remember that question you posed for me?

Happy, happy 60th Birthday.

Love
Iris

(Iris Tillman Hill)

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Darlene Clark Hine

Happy Birthday Nell !

Wish I could be there to give you a Hug.

-For the Love of Black Women's History,
Darlene Clark Hine

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Martha Hodes

To dearest Nell,

You have been an inspiration to me from the first day we met in Dickinson Hall just over a decade ago, carried through to every one of our meetings, including our intellectual exchange about writing history, at the OAH in Washington this past Spring. May I be so fortunate as to have many more such encounters. With gratitude and deep admiration,
Martha

Martha Hodes
Associate Professor of History
New York University

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Tom Holt

Dear Nell,

Happy Birthday! Here's hoping that the next thirty years will be as good to you as the first sixty.

Again, best wishes,
Tom Holt

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Richard & Alice Hope

We send our best to Nell for a HAPPY, HAPPY BIRTHDAY on this important year. Please tell her that the water is fine. (smile)

ALL THE BEST,
Richard and Alice
(More to follow after return from South Africa.)

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Anore Horton

Dear Nell, Happy Birthday! I'm so pleased that Glenn has provided me with this opportunity to send you my best wishes and deep thanks. I'm sitting in my office at Duke, taking a break from working on a chapter (yes, I'm actually writing!), and feeling incredibly happy with my life and my work. I just spent the academic year teaching 60 first-year students about the racial, gender, and class politics of citizenship in the U.S.--and how to write an academic essay and conduct library research into the bargain! I'm very clear that, if not for you, I would not be here now.

I arrived at Princeton, as you know, intending to work on a different project with a different advisor. I had, in fact, been warned by academics who didn't even know you that you were "difficult" and "intimidating." NOW I know that's just what powerful, political women scholars get called; THEN I agonized over whether or not to take your seminar!

In that first seminar, and ever since, I have found you to be thoughtful, challenging, rigorous, supportive, inquisitive, and professional. Not only have you taught me and many others what you know, but you have invited us to teach you and each other. From working with you, I have learned to trust my hunches, to ask tough questions, to value theory, to risk being wrong, and to stand by my political commitments. Your example gave me the freedom--and the challenge--of taking on a project in new and uncertain historiographic territory (so to speak), instead of playing it safe. That is one of the legacies you have already created, as a teacher and mentor for a new generation of historians.

As a teacher, mentor, and advisor, you have always been there for me. As a scholar, your work inspires and challenges me. I can only hope one day my students may say the same.

Thank you for your work in the world, for your dedication to writing the kind of history that makes a difference, for training me, and for including me as part of your legacy. It is with pride an gratitude that I call myself your student.

Love and long life!
Anore Horton

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William Howarth

Dear Nell,

Best wishes for a happy birthday!

When I hit the number coming up for you (and it shall not be mentioned again), I turned to the immortal words of W. S. Gilbert: "At this age, my body has become a grand ruin. Like most ruins, it is best viewed in moonlight."

Not so for you, my dear, thanks to your many miles on the canal towpath. I know the world admires you as a great intellect, but I happen also to be dazzled by the indefatigable athlete.

May all your days to come be joyful, whether viewed in sun or moonlight!

Will Howarth English Department

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Frank & Dona Irvin

Sis/Tut: Happy 60th birthday! In keeping with our tradition, we will call you on August 2, 2002, at 8 A.M., the precise time of your birth in 1942, in Houston Negro Hospital. Your birth and your brother's, almost 5 years earlier, were the happiest events in our lives together. After your delivery Mom looked out of the hospital window to see the brightest, most spectacular Sunday morning sun light of her young life, and Daddy beamed at the first sight of his beautiful newborn daughter. Let us tell you again how much we love you and how proud we are of you as a daughter, a woman, a wife, a career person, and a human being, and say to you that we appreciate the love and attention you give to us. Keep on being who you are.

With much love,
Mom and Daddy

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Sylvia Jacobs

Nell,

Congratulations on your 60th birthday. You have been an inspiration to me and to hundreds of other historians and scholars. You also have been a valued and true friend to me. My husband, Levell Exum, remembers when you were so hospitable to us while you were living in Chapel Hill and he often asks about you. All my best for a wonderful birthday celebration.

Sylvia M. Jacobs

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Claudia Johnson

Dear Nell,

Happy Birthday, Nell, and many many happy returns of the day, from your colleague across the yard in McCosh Hall! You are an inspiration in so many ways that your birthday gives all of us something to celebrate!

Your admirer and well-wisher,
Claudia L. Johnson

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Greg Johnson & Kenneth Reeves

Happy Birthday Nell!!!

The two of us have many fond memories of you in Massachusetts. There was our first diner party in our first apartment. There we were in August as Harvard Big Brothers, living an the Columbia Point Housing Project, hosting our exquisite friend Nell in a small sweltering kitchen made hotter by the heat and smell of over-fried chicken. You, of course, were a gracious guest who found a convincing repertoire of ways to mop your brow and seem as if you were enjoying imagined ocean breezes.

For these two Harvard men you defined intelligence, elegance, and what it means to be truly gracious. You invited us to meet your parents in Oakland--which we thoroughly enjoyed--and you made one of us a wonderful voile shirt which he still treasures.

While others may not understand how you came to be the magnificent human being that you are, our time with your parents made us better understand that you are the fruition of some very hard work and very lofty dreams. Reading your mother's book on raising middle class black children in California in the 1950's and reading your parents' recollections of their life together in an anthology on aging--both confirm that you were richly nurtured by two stellar parents and that you in turn are their well-deserved spectacular daughter.

Since you seem to have traversed the decades with barely a trace of age, keep on doing what you've been doing. Except please come to Cambridge more often and when they attempt to woo and steal you-accept. The key to the City awaits you!...............

Greg Johnson
Ken Reeves

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Walter Johnson

Happy birthday! You make 60 look so good -- so fresh and smart and wise and beautiful -- that I can't wait to get there myself. Not before saying thanks, though. Thinking back through what you've taught me is like imagining an intellectual record of everything I've learned since I was 22: about history and its writing, about injustice and resistance, about politics and intellectual rigor, about being a generous, decent, exemplary teacher and friend. Those are the results. The memories themselves are of laughing a lot (and crying a little), of your raised eyebrows, your eyes-wide-open-nodding-now-you're-(finally) -on-to-something-walter look, and the feeling of being part of something special and important and secret -- a conspiracy to see things right and make them that way too. Because they haven't yet printed up the Painterton tee shirts and becase my spell checker keeps changing it back to 'Princeton' whenever I try to tell my c.v. where I really got my Ph.D., I'll just say out loud here what I told you in private some time ago: Nell, you taught me to see.

Love you, Walter

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Donna Jones

To Nell,

A marvelous colleague, a brilliant woman and wonderful mentor. I miss you much out here in Cali, but think of you often. Happy 60th!!! I know in this profession we are supposed to confine our comments to the workings of the mind... but just had to say, damn you look great Nell!!!

Again, wish I were there and a most happy 60th,

Much love,
Donna

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William Jordan

Dear Nell, Congratulations and very best wishes on your birthday.

And congratulations, too, on the number and terrific quality of the Ph.D. students whose dissertations you have directed since coming to Princeton. The Department is deeply in your debt for this and for many other reasons as well.

Congratulations, again! Bill Jordan

William Chester Jordan
Professor of History
Princeton University

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Steve Kantrowitz
   (see photo album)

Nell Painter changed my life. I arrived at Princeton to begin graduate school in 1989, the same year that she began teaching there. When I arrived, the only thing I knew for sure was that I wasn't going to study Southern history; after a few months, I realized it was the only thing I wanted to study, and that I needed to study it with her. As a teacher and mentor, Nell offered patient attention, well-focused criticism, and analytical brilliance. She taught us to see ourselves as breakers of new ground--"my students do cutting-edge work," she told us over and over. That insistence meant something because she herself write and teaches at the cutting edge: insisting that we look across the color line, that we take gender seriously, that we follow the money, that we never say "Southerners" when we mean "white Southerners," that we never conflate "the South" with "the Confederacy." More than a decade later, these still seem like the most useful places to start with my own graduate students--and, writing "which Southerners do you mean?" for the umpteenth time in a margin, I have ever more respect for the patience Nell displayed as I fumbled toward intellectual rigor.

But beyond pedagogy and discipline, Nell's example and teaching have helped me become a different and better teacher and scholar than would otherwise have been possible. She helped me think my way up from liberalism, beyond the pieties and myths of American life, and into a more searching and critical relationship to the past and the present. I will always be grateful.

Steve Kantrowitz
University of Wisconsin

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Mary Kelley

My dear Nell,

On this your splendid birthday, I am reminded that you have graced my life for fifteen years. I like to say that we met in Shanghai, as in the ways of friendship we did. We have shared pages of our writings, hotel rooms at conventions, clothes that took our fancy, holidays at Fripp Island, laments about institutions that resisted change, refashioning of feminisms that limited, and much more.

Threaded through our friendship have been the care, the support, and the many lessons you have taught me.

You carried me through the dark passage of a marriage ending and waited to greet the more independent self you had done much to nurture.

You exemplified acting on the courage of one's convictions, teaching me to do the same.

You schooled me in the many meanings of generosity, especially those that are spontaneous.

You welcomed me into the remarkable world of your parents, Dona and Frank.

For all this and more you are my special friend.

Nine years ago, you marked my fiftieth brithday with a celebration in the hotel room we shared at a Berks. Now I have the opportunity send greetings on the finest of occasions, your sixtieth (and virtual) birthday celebration.

Love and Toodles,
Mary

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Robin Kelley

Happy Birthday Nell! I can't believe you're turning 60 because you're eternally young. On the other hand, I can't believe you're ONLY 60, given all the brilliantscholarship you've given us and all the students you've mentored over the years. Although I've never had the pleasure of taking a class with you, I consider myself one of your students. You made Hammer and Hoe possible in so many ways. First, I would not have taken on such a project had it not been for The Narrative of Hosea Hudson. Second, without knowing who the hell I was, you graciously pointed me to sources and put me in touch with Hosea himself. When I finished writing that unwieldy thing, you went through the dissertation with a fine tooth comb, sent back brilliant comments (color coded post-its and all!), hooked me up with a publisher and helped arrange a postdoc at UNC. And all this before you even met me!

I go back over old correspondence and it amazes me how much support you've continued to give me during the last decade and a half. Your consultation regarding job decisions, life decisions, daily negotiations in the world of academia, have been invaluable, if not life-saving. I know I've said this over and over again, but I owe my entire career to you. And I haven't even mentioned the mileage I get just knowing someone as famous as you!

I don't know how you stay so grounded and sane given all you do, all you've given. I know I can never repay you for the years of unflagging support (sixteen years to be exact), but I'm ready and willing to begin paying my debt. I'm prepared to hobble BACK to Newark, mow your lawn, paint your house, clean your garage, anything to show my appreciation for your mentorship, comradeship, and collegial support. I look forward to continuing to learn from you . . . and Diedra and I both hope you spend part of the coming year making more paintings! You have yet another career ahead of you.

Much Love,

robin
(as in Robin D. G. Kelley)

Robin D. G. Kelley
Professor of History and Africana Studies
New York University

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Stan Kelley

Happy Birthday Nell!

Stan Kelley

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Linda Kerber

Dear Nell, Across cyberspace, I send delighted greetings for your birthday. I count myself lucky that chance -- and Iris Hill -- brought us together for the Gender and American Culture series, where we developed a friendship based on coming to the same conclusions by different paths. It's been an invigorating and enriching collaboration and a wonderful base for a friendship.

This comes with hearty congratulations, and, as they say in my native language, mazel tov!

Linda Kerber
University of Iowa

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Tetteh Kofi

Now, how did I meet Nell? I remember when her car was one of these old cars, say it was made in 1940s or 50s, one of these round cars. These days they are beginning to produce them new.

I met Nell's mother on campus. Her mother came to me and asked if I was from Ghana, I said yes, and that is how I met Nell's father. And then I met Nell. She was living at the time with her roommates in a wooden house near the University. Her parents went to Ghana to work at the University of Ghana for two years, then Nell joined them. Through Nell I met Harvey Gould, a physics student and lover of jazz. All Harvey had to do was listen to the first note of a trumpet of Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Stanley Turrentine, or anyone else and he would tell you who was playing. I used to visit the family in the hilly country of North Berkeley to discuss African issues, and they used to call me to ask questions about Ghana and Africa in general.

I remember when Nell published her first book, then the second, then the third, and I also remember when her mother began publishing, so I used to joke that there was a silent competition between mother and daughter. I am very proud of Nell for what she has accomplished in life as a first class historian. Her integrity and level-headedness in scholarship is well known and well appreciated.

Happy Birthday Nell, and keep up with the good work and may you live for another sixty years. I will be gone by then, but keep on going.

Tetteh Kofi

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Lynn Kratzer

Dear Nell,

At this very special time of your life, I wish you the best of health, peace, serenity, and joy--it is a pleasure knowing and working with you.

Regards,
Lynn Kratzer

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Barbara Krauthamer

Dear Nell,

Happy birthday! You make sixty look stunning!

Thank you for being such a wonderful teacher, mentor, and friend. Every day I draw on the instruction and insight you so generously shared with me. Throughout graduate school I took great pride in saying, "I'm a Nell Painter student." Did you know that there were many other grad students who believed that your students received extra stipend money?! In truth, we were paid in a much more valuable currency: your time and attention. Although I now use the past tense —"I was a Nell Painter student"— the truth is I am still learning from you. Every time I go to the archives or sit at my desk, I can imagine you raising your eyebrows and asking me, "Who is 'the black community'? Women? Which women?" I suspect that I am not the only one of your students to punctuate my lectures with these same questions and admonitions. Whatever I might know about the intellectual and professional art of being a historian I learned from listening to and watching you. You taught me to read carefully, think critically, write precisely, and speak thoughtfully. Above all, you showed me the enduring value of approaching every situation with integrity, poise, humor, and a fierce intellect.

Much love,
Barbara

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Emmanuel Kreike

Dear Nell:

Congratulations to both you and Glenn (a quaint old Dutch custom is to include the spouse) on this very special day!

Emmanuel

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Brooke Kroeger

Twice sixty good wishes for this milestone, dear Nell. You are stunningly impressive from a distance and even more remarkable by your side in a trench. Onward in health and fulfillment.

With love and affection,
Brooke Kroeger

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Kevin Kruse

Dear Nell--

Happy birthday! You've provided me with a constant fountain of inspiration, whether it's been in writing about the South or moving to the North (of New Jersey, at least). It's an honor to count you as a colleague.

All my best,
Kevin Kruse

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Chana Kai Lee

Some of us are blessed to have many teachers come into our lives. I am one of those people. Nell, I can never thank you enough for mentoring me and for being such a generous friend and colleague. Your work, your presence, your personal advice to me have all influenced my reading, writing and thinking about history in immeasurable ways. But your brilliance as a researcher, writer, teacher and mentor are hardly a matter of debate in our profession. I learned so much more from you than how to "do history." Through your example and eloquent words, I learned how to best conduct myself in the midst of perceived hardship in my professional and personal worlds. You taught me about the need to keep moving through this life no matter what it gives me, to keep believing that there is always a tomorrow. Your faith, dedication and optimism will always stand out for me. Every interaction I ever had with you turned into a gift for me, even when I disagreed with you or found myself angered or confused by some hard truth that you shared in your usual direct and candid way. I am always thinking of you, Nell, because you have always been there for me and countless others. Thank you. Here's wishing you the happiest birthday of them all!

Your friend,
Chana

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Lawrence Levine

Dear Nell,
That far-out French composer Erik Satie — who when he was told in 1903 that his compositions for the piano had insufficient form, immediately composed, Three Pieces in the Shape of a Pear — observed upon turning fifty:

When I was young,
  I was told:
    You'll see when you're fifty
  I am fifty
And I haven't seen a thing.

Happily, Satie was not speaking for you here. You saw, understood, and shared with all of us many significant things after you turned fifty a decade ago and we know that will continue to be true following your sixtieth birthday. Indeed, we look forward in the future — as we always have in the past — to learning so much from you about the hidden truths, neglected peoples, unappreciated events, and misunderstood complexities that will help us to better comprehend our society and our culture.

With some important exceptions -- committees and panels we've served on together and a few professional trips we've taken, like the wondrous one to China in 1984 -- for most of our careers you and I have been a continent apart geographically, but as historians we've been close neighbors and comrades. I probably have never said, but I trust I have shown, how deeply I've valued and admired you as a dear colleague and friend.

Cornelia joins me in wishing you the happiest of birthdays and sending you and Glenn our warmest wishes for the future.

With Love,
Larry Levine
July 3, 2002

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David Levering Lewis

Dear Nell,

Sixty is significant, a time to look back on things done and ahead to what's still to do. For some of us, the rear view mirror scene brings remorse or guilt. But not you, my once great passion. You've set the pace, broken the mold, scaled the heights. In other words, you've become history as you've written history. From Exodusters via Armageddon to Race and Gender essays you've marked the profession's landscape with sign posts to be followed by the best and brightest in the making.

But do I hear that after this next big, important book, you're leaving the profession and starting a new career as an artist?!! Now I've no doubt that whatever you set your mind to you'll pull off superlatively. Yet, what a loss to us historians! Haven't you noticed how more like accountants and lawyers we're becoming---careful, predicatble, and all speaking and writing the same formulaic lingo? Your absence is bound to create a large void that will be filled by tweedledum-deeists. RECONSIDER! DON'T GO!

But what am I saying? You've earned the right to go off and enjoy yourself, to do exciting things in another sphere. After all, at 60, you have only another three decades to kick up your heels, to race Glenn to the top of Mt. Everest, to paint the sun setting over the Rif Gorge, to get roaring potted over jeroboams of Dom Perignon. Hmm, as I enumerate these pleasurable options, I begin to wonder if I shouldn't reverse myself and tell you to ignore all those stay-the-course exhortations.

Heck, I was 60 six years ago. Thank you for letting me know that you're turning 60 because I'm just realizing that I'm six years late for my own exit. Well, I'can't leave immediately, but how's this for a proposal? -- a joint birthday celebration when you turn 61 and I 67, at which time I'll kiss your hand, propose a toast, and, with Ruth, head for the hills of Dutchess County and a pleasant senescence? Or maybe the south of France.

All this amounts to a great deal to ponder. But don't ponder much of anything today. Just sit back and bask in being celebrated. I wish you a very happy, rich birthday, dear Nell.

Faithfully,
David

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Margaret Lewis

For Nell..........

Welcome to the the wonderful life of the 60s! May you continue walking in such "dignity, beauty, poise," and love! Happy day of your birth, Nell!

Your California sister,
Margaret Lewis

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Chunyan Li

Dear Nell:

I am extremely honored to write a tribute for your 60th birthday. I would have never guessed your age. To me, you always look 40. I thank Glenn for giving me this opportunity to write to you.

I still vividly remember the Christmas day I spent at your house at Princeton in 1994, just several months after I came from China. I was very homesick and nervous, and you made me feel I came home. I was very taken by the apple pie you baked and took 3 pictures of the pie and you. You and Glenn then gave me a tour of the beautiful campus. To this day, when I looked at the picture of the three of us, I could not believe that I had the fortune to know the greatest people I have ever seen. As a graduate student at that time, I looked to you as someone I wanted to become when I finish my study--someone knowledgeable, intellectual, and yet human. For the years, I kept wondering how a person with so much achievement could be so "real", so approachable, and so gorgeous. Now that I have my degree (thanks to Glenn), I still don't think I can achieve as much as you did. I could only strive to be like you. Wish you a happy birthday!

With deep respect,
Chunyan Li

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Len Lieberman

Dear Nell,

Arlene joins me in wishing you a happy and healthy birthday. There is something magical about our friendship with its three decade hiatus. We are looking forward to being able to commune with you and Glenn when you move north. You will strengthen and nourish an already vibrant society. Welcome in advance!

Sincerely and respectfully,
Len Lieberman

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Malinda Lindquist

Happy Birthday Nell!!! You make 60th look beautiful! We can only hope to do it as well as you.

You are a wonderful mentor, guide, and friend. We have enjoyed getting to know you over the past four years, and look forward to a life-long friendship.

Love,
Malinda and Belinda

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Bob & Joy Lominska

Dear Nell,

Joy and I both wish you a very happy birthday,

With great fondness,
Bob Lominska

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Pamela Long

Dear Nell:

Do not think of yourself as being 60--you are 30 twice. This shows in your youthful spirit, the spring in your step, your ever-present smile, your eager mind.

I wish you a very happy birthday, and many, many more in great happiness and good health.

Love,
Pamela

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Scott Lucious

Dear Nell,

I thank God for all of the blessings that He has bestowed upon me: especially those blessings that have come my way through you. In retrospect, I realize that I am a works-in-progress: my season at Princeton University, as a Dissertation Fellow in the Program in African American Studies, challenged me to grow on so many levels—intellectual, professional, and personal. The most formative of my experiences throughout that season, I believe, is the privilege of discovering, for myself, the intellectual/academic role model that you are—one who leads and teaches by example. I thank God for you and I pray that He continues to bless you to be a blessing unto others.

Much Love,
Scott
Bernard Scott Lucious
Morehouse College
English Department

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Liz Lunbeck

Dear Nell,

Warmest birthday wishes to a wonderful colleague, scholar, and friend. You're looking great, vibrant and healthy as ever, and I wish you many more years of the same!

All the best,
Liz Lunbeck

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