Sixtieth Birthday Tribute
See Photo Album

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


Aladrian & Carl Mack
   (see photo album)

Dear Nell:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY from the MACKS - Aladrian & Carl. It is no accident that while we are in the Motherland - Zulu-natal, South Africa - you will be celebrating your 60th birthday. We are with you in spirit/soul and welcome you into this new decade of excitement in your life!

Aladrian & Carl Mack

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Kenneth Mack
   (see photo album)

Although my identity as a historian is one of the most important of the many identities that I inhabit, I came to Princeton as a graduate student in 1994 as a 29-year old lawyer who knew next to nothing about history. By the time I left campus in 1999, I could in good conscience call myself a historian. Nell Painter is the person most responsible for my making that transition. My first year at Princeton was a heady time. I was admitted in a class that contained an unprecedented (in recent memory) four African-American students, all of whom wanted to spend a significant portion of our time studying with Nell and all of whom were intimidated by Nell's erudition. We all had a lot to learn. I can even remember speaking to Nell via phone before I was admitted, and hearing her tell me that at Princeton graduate students do cutting edge history, involving the "linguistic turn." I, and my graduate student cohort, quickly learned what that meant in her seminars in Social History and Southern History, and in our periodic meetings at Nell's house on Fitzrandolph road for the New History Seminar. We learned how to be both careful and cutting edge historians, and how to be intellectually curious and push the boundaries of our pre-existing thinking, particularly with regard to the intersection of race, class and gender. I'm sure that I join a chorus of graduate students in saying thanks for sharing so much of your time with your students, and helping to transform their intellectual and professional lives.

Kenneth W. Mack
Harvard Law School

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Marlene & Peter MacLeish
   (see photo album)

Dear Nell:

Your sweet friendship has been a wonderful part of our lives for more than thirty years...and your elegant books a constant in Christmas and birthdays packages to Odetta (the Currier House Brat you knew so well) and Raymond, now enrolled at Fordham Law School. Peter and I remain your faithful television fans and look forward to your Christmas letters to hear of recent adventures and your wonderful live with Glenn.

Peter and I are proud of your fine accomplishments. We send our love and very best wishes for your sixtieth birthday.

Do come visit with us in Atlanta... we are making our contribution to Morehouse Medical School...and keeping the faith that we have so profoundly learned from your fine works.

Love
Marlene & Peter

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Debora Macy

Dear Nell,

What a joy it is to know you. Your warmth and kindness are immediately apparent, and your constant smile lights up a room.

I wish for you a wonderfully happy birthday, with many, many more to come.

Love,
Debbie Macy

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Edris Makward

Dear Nell;

Please receive my heart felt congratulations and wishes for many more years of continuation with the good work. I still remember fondly walking and discussing with you, the "Black Revolution" and your passioinate commitment to it,on a Berkley street, some time in ...1969! You have indeed contributed a lot since, in helping many young- and not so young- people, here and elsewhere, understand the profound meaning of my favorite Wolof saying- much deeper than the Socrates"know thyself":

"xam sa bop moo gen nu la koy wax!
(Know yourself before they tell you!)

HAPPY 60TH! NELL

From an older fellow traveller, Edris Makward

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Waldo Martin

Dear Nell:

On this momentous occasion I want to wish you a grand birthday!

Here's also wishing you happiness, good health, and joy today and always.

All the best,
Waldo

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William Massey
  (see photo album)

Nell:

I recently organized a birthday celebration for three African American mathematicians this year.

We came up with a solution to the "candle problem". Using binary notation, you can represent your birthday year with no more than six candles (until you turn 128). Just let a lighted candle denote a "1" and let an unlit candle denote a "0". A photo of a sample cake is shown below.

So best wishes on your "111100"th birthday!
William A. Massey

William A. Massey is Edwin S. Wiley Professor in the Department of Operations Research and Financial Engineering at Princeton.

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Keith Mayes

Dear Nell,

Sixty. Wow. After meeting your mom and dad, I see that looking young runs in the family. I am proud to know that your sixtieth birthday is coming a couple of months after OUR dissertation defense. I will never forget, for as long as I live, the instructions you gave me in March 2002--"shit, get off the pot, and defend by May." Of course that's paraphrased but it was the best kick in the romp I ever received. I just want to say that it has been wonderful knowing you these past six years. You have been an avid supporter, a tough critic, and my biggest booster. You are all that any graduate student can hope and wish for in an advisor, constantly going beyond the call of duty. Though, I'm leaving Princeton for Minnesota and will not have the luxury of seeing you as often, much of what you instilled in me will remain for many years to come. Have a happy sixtieth and in addition to writing history, make it--give the world another sixty years of Nell Irvin Painter.

Keith Mayes

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Mark Mayfield

Dear Nell,
Happy Birthday. We're so much alike. I've written one small book of fluff, you've written 37 of solid research and substance. I struggled through two degrees in college, you have 13 with honors from distinguished universities. I am occasionally quoted in the Caney Chronicle, you are published throughout the world. I have traveled to far places like Bismarck, you to places like France. Now that I think about it, other than both being African-American, we have little in common. So when I grow up, I want to be just like you. That means a lot since that will require a sex change. Oh, enough of this hyperbole and nonsense, what I really mean to say is that I hope you have a great birthday and I will leave you with my favorite birthday poem:

You're not getting old when your hair turns gray,
You're not getting old when your teeth decay,
You're not getting old when you can't go to sleep,
But you are getting old when your mind makes a date that your body can't keep.

Happy Birthday from your Cousin-in-law;
Mark Mayfield

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Debbie McDowell

Dear Nell,

I am sending you this birthday wish in my loudest, strongest voice, and you must remember that I have a very loud voice. But my strong wishes are equalled only by my skepticism: You can't be sixty and look the way you do. So when the celebrations are over and all your many friends have raised their glasses, I'll expect a facsimile of your birth certificate, since seeing, in this case, is not believing.

MANY, MANY HAPPY RETURNS.
Debbie McDowell

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Bill McFeely

It is a pleasure to write in support of Nell Painter's well-deserved nomination for the post of Most Distinquished Knitter in the Historical Profession. Although some of us at a podium sweating through a cantakerous paper have had a Dickensian thought when glancing down at her sitting in the front row, hard at work, others, have no doubt been kept warm, by her endless production of beautiful sweaters. I assume her work will be on display when Dickinson Hall next mounts its first annual famous crafts show in honor of her birthday.

Happy Birthday
Bill McFeely

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Charles McGruder

My cousin Nell, who is in reality my only sister, .....

Congratulations on your 60th. It is preceded by many, many outstanding accomplishments. You can look back with a great feeling of satisfication. But I look forward to many, many more. Best wishes for your after 60 years.

love, charley

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Nellie McKay
  (see photo album)

Dear Nell,

Of course it is not possible to calculate how much richer our friendship has made my life, and only when I think if how much poorer it would have been can I begin to appreciate the blessings of the almost-three decades that we have been so close to each other. With much gratitude, I thank you for those years that only you could have given with the love and caring and trust that passeth all human understanding.

I don't know that I wish for you another sixty years, and I certainly don't promise to stay around for them if they come to you. But what I do wish for you and me and all whom we love are good health and the freedom to live them as we all desire.

With much love,
Nellie

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Jim McPherson

Nell:

Having passed the milestone of 60 years and begun the second half of my life five years ago, I welcome you to this exclusive club of older but wiser codgers. It is a time to look back and take pride in all you have accomplished, but also a time to look forward to more great experiences in the future. So, congratulations and best wishes.

Jim McPherson

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Dorothy Mendez

My Dearest Nell,

Congratulations on sixty years of magnificence. Your are truly one of God's special people.

Have a wonderful birthday. May this year hold for you many, many blessings, and may all your dreams and wishes come true. Here's to you. Happy, Happy Birthday,

YOU GO GIRL
LOVE AND BLESSING
Sister Dorothy
First Church Family

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Honor Moore

Well Nell,
You raise the bar of gorgeousness and brilliance at the tender age of 60 for all of us. I miss seeing you and being in touch, so know you can reach me any time at HonorM@aol.com.... In any case, thinking of you and sending very much love,

Honor

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John Murrin

Warmest congratulations, Nell. I don't often get nostalgic about the administrative assignments I have completed at Princeton, but writing the search report that evenually brought you to Princeton in 1989 is a major exception. Have a great day.

All the best,
John Murrin

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Richard Newman

Dear Nell,

I am absolutely delighted to join other friends, colleagues, and admirers to wish you a happy birthday. Congratulations to you! Please thank Glenn for giving me this opportunity. I am sorry to be tardy, but I had a cerebral hemorrhage in January and have been watching a lot of TV. I don't know whether it's really not so bad, or if critical judgment is among the brain cells I lost. I came very close to dying, and I will tell you that that experience communicates a powerful and persuasive message. It is Du Bois's statement, "One thing alone I charge you. As you live, believe in life!"

So all the very best to you, now and in the future. Your work has meant so much to so many. We are all in your debt. Happy birthday.

Sincerely,
Dick

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Roy & Ruth Nichols

Happy Birthday Nell! We are proud of your many achievements and are particularly enjoying your latest book, "Southern History Across the Color Line." Don't stop new. Our friendship, which commenced during the early days at Downs Memorial United Methodist Church, we covet. Our whole family joins us in saying "Have a Great Day."

With much love,
Bishop Roy and Ruth Nichols.

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Philip Nord

Dear Nell:

Deberoah and I want to wish you the happiest of birthdays. Many congratulations.

Yours,
Phil

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Joyce Carol Oates & Ray Smith

Happy birthday, Nell, and much love.

Joyce and Ray

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dt ogilvie

Dear Nell,

First of all, if Glenn hadn't told me, there is no way I would have guessed your age. You have such a youthful spirit and appearance that it's difficult to grasp that you will be 60 next month!

While your scholarship is impressive, what impresses me even more is your warmth and generosity. You are one of the most famous historians in the world, yet you are very approachable and down-to-earth, and as a young scholar meeting you for the first time years ago, I put you in my role model category.

I wish you the best of birthdays, Nell. And now that you are a Newark resident, I hope to have the opportunity to see you more often. We should get together so I can buy you a celebratory drink at one of our local hangouts.

Fondly,
dt

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Annelise Orleck

Dear Nell,

I just wanted to wish you a superb sixtieth, to say thank you for your crucial and caring interventions at a very vulnerable and uncertain time of my career. Your support and your confidence in me made a big difference, not to mention your steering me to North Carolina which has done so well by my book.

Your career and you personally are an inspiration to me, your charismatic teaching, your beautiful, accessible writing and the risks you have taken all have influenced my own work. Not to mention that you look unbelievably beautiful at sixty. If I look half as good, I'll be thrilled.

big hugs and wishes for decades more birthdays.

Love,
Annelise

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Eduardo Pagán

Dear Nell,

Ruth and I wish you a wonderful and happy 60th birthday, and may we enjoy many, many more with you! As the years go on, and the memories of what we discussed in graduate seminars fade with age, what remains clearest in my mind is the example that you set for the rest of us through your courage, your sacrifices, and your devotion to scholarship. But what is perhaps brightest in my memory is the person you are. I have never known of another professor who took the same level of care and interest in her students as you. You welcomed us into your classroom, your office, your home, and your life. You listened when we needed someone to listen, you encouraged us when we needed encouraging, and you kicked us in the butt when our butts needed kicking. And who you are played a role in shaping who I am. Quite honestly, I don't know that I would have completed my degree were you not there. You were the best mentor and advisor I could ask for, and I am grateful to count myself among your extended family.

Eduardo Pagán
National Endowment for the Humanities

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Colin Painter

It was the Roman poet Horace who pointed out that there were many heroes before Agamemnon who are forgotten because they did not have their poets. Ah! but that was before e-mail. Now, if you are a wonderful person and have had a wonderful career, your chat site will be your griot. It has been lovely to read the tributes. Let me add my own congratulations. Many Happy Returns.

Colin

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Colin Palmer

My warmest congratulations to Nell on this very special and joyous occasion.

I first met Nell in 1980 when we both joined the faculty of the University of North Carolina. My admiration and respect for her have deepened over the years. A brilliant scholar and gifted teacher, Nell has touched and enriched all of us who have been fortunate to know her. She is a wonderful human being, decent, generous, caring, and wise. Nell represents the best in us. May she continue to enjoy life's many blessings and may good fortune continue to smile upon her.

Colin Palmer

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Gayle Pemberton

Happy Birthday, Nell!
Your graciousness is only exceeded by your intelligence and scholarship. It is a pleasure to know you. Many Happy Returns.
Love, Gayle

Gayle Pemberton
Professor of English, African American, and American Studies
Wesleyan University

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Arlie & Marcie Petters

Dear Nell,

Happy birthday!

Cheers to you ... whose unconditional love and support our community is blessed to have!

Big hugs and kisses.

Love,
Arlie and Marcia

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Arnold Rampersad

Dear Nell,

Marvina and I send you our love on this your Sixtieth Birthday. May you have many happy birthdays to come!--something that's bound to happen since you hardly look a day over many many years ago. We are very happy to be able to join in this celebration, if only in cyberspace. You have accomplished so much and have so much still to accomplish that you wish to accomplish--rather than rest on your abundance of laurels--that we know that you will enjoy this day looking backward with pleasure and forward with keen anticipation.

Happy Birthday, Nell!

Love,
Arnold

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Phillip & Jessie Raymond

Dear Nell,

Happy 60th Birthday!

It has been a pleasure watching your growth, development and achievement through the years. You have been an outstanding role model for our sons and many others who have gone on to achieve higher goals because of your inspiration.

Congratulations on your new book and best wishes for all your future endeavors.

Phillip and Jessie Raymond

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Sheldon & Diana Reaven

Dear Nell,

Uh-oh...ANOTHER big birthday is rolling around? Oy! Grin and bear it (what's the alternative?) with stately grace and insouciance -- or at least fake it. You're such a gem: keep on sparkling. We miss you and Glenn -- we gotta hang out soon.

Fondly,
Sheldon and Diana

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Douris Reed

Dear Nell:

I want to add my voice to the chorus that is singing Happy Birthday to you. You bring so much to life, it's just a great honor and pleasure to know you. May you live a long, healthy and happy life and continue to spread your gifts. Love and happiness.

Douris Reed
First Church of Religious Science Family.

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Linda Reed

Happy Birthday, Nell! It has been great having you as a mentor and friend for these past fifteen-plus years. I think I can speak on behalf of so many other scholars whose work and careers you have touched with words of encouragement and clear guidance in how to improve our written work or handle a certain professional (and/or personal) situation. We love you and wish you many happy returns on the anniversary of your birth!

Linda Reed
University of Houston

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Samuel Roberts

Happy Birthday Nell!

For the longest time, I didn't know how I was going to write my birthday salutations. Having read several drafts of my dissertation, you especially know the difficulty I often have in putting thoughts to computer screen. Some drafts were way too effusive for Nell "tough-as-nails" Painter. Others too staid to really capture my appreciation for your mentorship, advising, and friendship. I hope that this one conveys the depth of sentiment that has grown since 1995, when we first met.

Nell, you're the greatest. When I decided to come to Princeton and work with you, I knew your work, and heard about your fabulous advising skills, but had absolutely no idea how important a good mentor would be. I shudder to think what would have happened had I not come to New Jersey.

I was ignorant on that and many other things. Quite frankly, I decided to go to graduate school with little other motivation than that I enjoyed studying, reading, and exploring history. I showed up at Princeton, and, honestly, had my butt kicked eighteen different ways. Yet you were always there, even when others had written me off (names omitted to protect the guilty), to let me know that you believed in my ability. You don't know how important that was, especially since I frequently had inadequate faith to continue the work.

Ah, so now for a trip down memory lane… Fall of 1997, and Crystal, Ken, Barbara, et al, are all asking me if I've had the "Call me Nell" talk. Serious buzz in small-town Princeton, New Jersey. It seems that Professor Painter, no-BS-and-hard-as-nails, has decided to individually tell her students that they may call her Nell. Of course, having just come off the anxiety of general examinations, I privately wondered if this possibly was a courtesy that would not be extended to yours truly. In fact, back then I wondered if I could even bring myself to address you as anything but "Prof. Painter." I had only known you as the tough-as-nails professor for whom I worked the hardest, and couldn't imagine being on a first-name basis. The time came, however, at a party on FitzRandolph Road, and I clearly remember calling you Professor Painter and you interrupting me and saying "Sam, you can call me Nell." If you remember this at all, you probably recall me grinning stupidly, stuttering out, "Thank you, er, Nell", and nearly forgetting what it was I was about to say in the first place. Since then it has been an honor that I have cherished jealously, and for which I have worked hard to be worthy.

Don't get me wrong. Nobody begrudges you for being "tough as nails." Quite the opposite. You'll remember at the Boston American Historical Association annual meeting, you and I had a drink after you had been named the Nancy Roelker Teaching Award recipient (I had just finished a job interview, and to have a one-on-one drink with my advisor, at the beginning of my career, was another memorable moment). I told you then, and I tell anyone who may read this open letter, that all of your students had benefited from your hard-as-nails style. For a number of years, I and the rest of your students have watched you fight battles that we had neither the power nor courage to fight ourselves. Even more, we enjoyed the legends and myths that trickled down to us and were oft-told among your admirers (your near-defection to Yale, for example).

No offense to Roelker or the award that bears her name, but an accolade that has only the word 'teaching' in its title fails to capture the extent to which you have affected a generation of scholars. You are a wonderful teacher, but so much of what I have learned from you has come outside the classroom setting and your pedagogical style. Reading your work has taught me immensely what it means to be a historian, and how to define my own career. No one could suggest in the classroom wildly creative approaches to performing our craft had she not established through her scholarship that such approaches could, and should, be done. I'm talking about interdisciplinarity, the use of unorthodox and sometimes controversial methods, the honest and rigorous interrogation of sources and received knowledge.

Another trip down memory lane… A couple of years ago, I took your History of the U.S. South graduate course. The first two weeks were devoted almost entirely to the political uses of violence in Nazi Germany and Central and South America during the 1980s and 1990s. A wet-behind-the-ears first-year student who did not know your style asked why we were reading, of all things, about topics that were out of place and time in considering Southern History. By this time, I knew something of your style, and simply smiled. Your response was, "The American South has been an extremely violent place, against blacks, against women, against the poor, but it will no longer do for us to simply say so and keep moving. We must theorize Southern violence, and it may help to do so comparatively." It was classic Nell Painter.

I have left Princeton and graduate school life. I don't miss the pecking order (I've graduated from one hierarchy to another). I certainly don't miss the miserly stipend which I was able to augment with grants and fellowships obtained in no small part through your glowing letters of recommendation. I do miss, however, having the daily interactions with you and the circle of impressive and original students you always attract - Crystal, Ken, Barbara, Marie, Stacey, Chad, Malinda. At the same time, I know that I am prepared, because you always told me how to be so. I often think of the times when I didn't know what the hell I was doing with my work, or in graduate school for that matter, and how you kept the faith for me, kept me level-headed and confident. I remember the innumerable conversations, even during my first year of graduate school, when you offered advice that began with "Sam, when you're a professor", signaling to me your firm belief in something that, for you, was never in doubt and only a matter of eventuality. I remember being introduced by you to other leading scholars, at which time you would ask them, "Have you met Sam Roberts?", as if not having acquaintance with me, a third-year student who on a good day might articulate one decent idea, was something that had to be immediately rectified. Today, as I exchange advisor stories with colleagues and friends, I realize that these are the things that most professors do not do, but that I have vowed to replicate when I take on students.

About five years ago, you told me that you were considering retirement and that I would probably be your last student (at the time, I occasionally wondered if having to deal with me had influenced your decision (smile). I'm glad that you've taken on three other classes, and I sincerely hope there will be more. It has been no small honor and challenge to be your student and to live up to your example. On behalf of all of us, I express our deepest thanks.

Love, Sam

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Tom Roberts

Dear Nell,

Happiness is the result of wonderful friendships. I very often find myself thinking of you and smiling and feeling good to have you as a best friend. Also I thank you for being one of my two favorite clients (the other being Leah). Although we are often many thousands of miles apart, our sharing of lives enriches me. I treasure all of our many conversations and your letters (and e-mails) and look forward to many more. Each June and July I think of you and smile while we are the same age. Is it not wonderful to feel young and to be enjoying life fully one day at a time? We hope to get you out to enjoy some winter sunshine this year.

Love,
Tom

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Noliwe Rooks

Nell, I have a memory from the not too distant past of our flying down some road or other in your very cute convertible car. Your mother is there and we three are looking much more than merely attractive. I told you then that your commitment to your vision of the future, recent choices and newfound ability to prioritize your mental and emotional health made me so very proud of you. None of the above is insignificant. Dreams are vital, choices are key, and as we have had to come to know in the past few years, health in any of its forms is very, very precious and much more difficult to come by and hold to tightly than is academic success. I am repeating this memory now because you told me once to make a habit of saying and repeating often that which we want the people we respect to know. You told me that it is important to talk while they are still here to listen.

I want you to know that the breadth of your intellectual interests is startling. I want you to know that you are brilliant. I want you to know that your thinking has deeply influenced mine. I want you to know that you are a writer with no small amount of either talent or skill. I want you to know that the consistency of your scholarly production is humbling. I want you to know that the academy is much enriched by your presence.

I want you to know that you are a friend who has proved it regularly from the day I first e-mailed you.

I want you to know that your fifties looked so good on you that I am "straight up" afraid to see what you will do with your sixties and beyond.

I want you to know that I noticed.

Happy Sixtieth Birthday
Noliwe Rooks

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Angela & Adrian Rosenthal

Dear Nell, good morning,

und ganz ganz herzlichen Glückwunsch zu deinem 60. Geburtstag!

It is over two years ago since I first met you and since you made an instant impression on my life. Gazing across the lecture hall at a conference at Dartmouth, I caught site of this elegant and attractive women knitting. Imagining that you were surely absorbed in private deliberations over textures and hues, I was caught off guard when you were not only the first to ask a question, but also, what a question! The specifics of your comment need not be elaborated here--they related to ivory and different tones and textures of white--but its context is woven into my memory.

Since then, you and Glenn have spent several months in Berlin, and in the meantime you now speak my mother tongue, we also share some German friends, and other interests. I admire your readiness to learn, your eagerness to explore novelty, and your willingness to re-invent.

Adrian and I still remember fondly moments we shared on our front porch, watching the neighborhood, discussing lives, and admiring your new convertible. Back then you told me that you hoped to find some time to study again--­­fine arts of course. I keep thinking that it would be fun to have an experimental painterly dialogue with you, a mutual portrait session so to speak, just to see what we would come up with, even before art school.

After a few days of an early summer heat wave, a thunder storm is menacing. Before I rush around to shut the windows, let me close this note with Adrian and my sincere wishes for a healthy, happy and exciting future. We wish to celebrate this birthday, as an important moment in an outstanding career and in an enviable life. We appreciate the joy and elegance that you embody.

Many happy returns,
Love Angela and Adrian

P.S.: The webpage your family has created for you is truly beautiful. I love the photograph of your parents' 63rd wedding-anniversary--what role models they are!

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Nichole Rustin

Professor Painter,

Best wishes on your birthday and continued success and happiness for the future. Thank you for your encouragement, warmth, and intellectual energy, rigor, and commitment.

With warm regards,
Dr. Nichole T. Rustin
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Leslie Sanders

Celebrating your grace, knowledge and wisdom, Nell, and also the fun we've had - with our mutual friend!

Love on your birthday and always,
Leslie

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Patricia Schechter
   (see photo album)

Dear Nell,

When I look out at a lecture hall full of students, at an unfamiliar conference audience, at my blank computer screen, or a pile of papers to edit or grade, your example of excellence, committment, and wisdom somehow reaches me, all the way out here in Oregon. Thank you so much for sharing your warmth, humour, courage, and great style with your students, the profession, and the world.

You promised us a painted portrait when you pick up the brush and pallet. We'll come find you when you call, where ever and whenever that may be.

HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Love,
Patty Schechter

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Edna Schenkel

Happy Birthday, Nell Painter! You are truly a 21st century woman. Who else would have a cyber birthday celebration?

As your lecture agent for the past six years, you have made my job easy. You are the perfect speaker – intelligent, articulate, accomplished, attractive, accommodating and undaunted by small planes!

I'm pleased that our professional relationship has grown into a personal one, and I am honored to be counted among your friends – even though we have yet to meet!

All your fans at Greater Talent Network join me in wishing you the very best of birthdays. Let the celebrations continue! Enjoy it all.

Warmest regards,
Edna Schenkel

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Richard Scherl & Soheila Kobler

Dear Nell:

Happy Birthday!! We wish you many more happy and productive years.

Rich & Soheila

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Norman & Liz Schofield

Happy Birthday Dear Nell.

The time we spent in Palo Alto was one of those good times. The configuration of the stars must have been just right. And you were the best neighbor. Sitting out on the stoop, drinking wine, idly chatting about this and that - it could not have been better.

Love,
Norman & Liz Schofield

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Carl Schorske

Dear Nell,

    "....Happy Birhtday dear Ne-ell,
    "Happy Birthday to you!"

I want not only to sing to you loud and clear, but more: to apply a lesson of yours by sending the song of your day in Seven Shape Notation. I learned of the latter from you and Hosea Hudson, whose life of feeling, thought and action you limned with such sympathetic understanding. But once again, the computer defeats me. I can get it neither to carry my voice live nor to convey my song to you in the lovely, simple, musical script Hosea used.

It may be your birthday, Nell, but we all get the presents: the products of your passionate, illuminating scholarship and teaching. Many thanks, and heartiest congratulations!

Affectionately,
Carl Schorske

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Joyce Seltzer

Nell,

Although I always admire your ever-changing elegant yet sturdy shoes, it's really just a stand-in for the whole, ever-changing, ever-original, elegant yet sturdy you. Seeing you at conferences or at Princeton is always a breath of fresh and vital air that I inhale deeply and get giddy on. It's a pleasure to know you and to have this chance to send you love and warm wishes for a wonderful year ahead.

Toujours gai!

Je t'embrasse,
Joyce

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Dee Shafer
   (see photo album)

Happy Birthday Nell. I'm very proud to have you as a sister-in-law, both because of your many accomplishments and because of who you are as a person. Please come and visit us in the redwoods sometime.

Dee

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Dennis Shafer
   (see photo album)

Dear Nell,

Happy Birthday! It seems just yesterday that I was tap-dancing with your mom at your wedding. You have been a great role model for me since then, teaching me everything from table manners to francais. Congratulations on being 60, and I hope you have a great second career as an artist!

Bises,
Dennis

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Glenn Shafer
  (see photo album)

Nell, my love,

I hope the good wishes and warm thoughts of your friends will give you pleasure for many years.

Love,
Glenn

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Janet Shafer
   (see photo album)

Nell,

Have the happiest of birthdays! I'm so glad my brother married you! I've enjoyed all the times I've visited, and you've always made me feel welcome.

It's been an honor to work on your web site. It's been a joy to work with Glenn (the relentless editor), and the initial work Rick did was very helpful, too. I've also enjoyed getting to know your friends through posting the web site messages. I hope the web site brings you pleasure and satisfaction.

Love and best wishes,
Janet

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Rick Shafer
  (see photo album)

Nell,

After knowing you half my life, I still have no idea what you'll do next. Or even half the things you've done already, as I intermittently discover a whole range of expertise and experience that I would never have imagine you had. (Like when you told me some of what you know about co-ops.)

As many resources as you have, it is possible for you to do on a whim what many people must contemplate and struggle to do — e.g., traveling to Europe or buying something expensive. But I see you committing yourself to what you do in a way that many people of extensive means would never do.

You give all your effort to many of the things you do. You are clearly moving to Newark for a good set of reasons that go well beyond the superficial or self-interested considerations to which far too many people limit themselves (many of whom, I believe, limit themselves thus because they are repeatedly told to). Of course I can't get in your head and say all the reasons, but I can see that you are about to dive in and become part of a community that is finally rising again after decades of misery and disaster.

Many a person would never contemplate such a thing. More to the point, the vast majority of people in New Jersey don't have the courage to move to any of the historic cities, and they don't have the balls to stand up and say, "I'm from Newark," even among those who don't have the strong racist bias that so many New Jerseyans display toward your new home. And many who might would still hedge and dodge and tell their friends that they have some overwhelming practical reason like being close to New York and insist they have no intrinsic interest in their community.

But I can't see you doing that. What I see is you moving forward and believing in what you're doing. You'll be enjoying yourself as you contribute to and benefit from a real city, but simultaneously you'll be making a point. It is, of course, your point to make; but I believe it is a point about the value of cities, about the racially polarized nature of our state and nation, about revitalization and renewal and the opportunity for happiness in a place that has been largely denied it for so very long. It will be a valid point because you live it.

In your sixty-and-counting years you have lived so very much. You have lived on three continents, spoken more than a couple languages, learned from people with all kinds of points of view, and staked out an intellectual and moral ground to call your own. As such you are someone to admire, and as such I have quite a challenge to live up to the standard you set.

Happy birthday, Nell.
-Rick
[Nell's stepson]

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Roy Shafer
   (see photo album)

Happy Birthday Nell!! We're happy to have you in the family - and we enjoyed meeting you at your and Glenn's wedding in Princeton, and then having you visit us here in Caney. Hope you can visit us again soon.

Best wishes from the Kansas Shafers
Roy, Ruth, and Garold Shafer
(Roy is Glenn's brother)

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Harold & Vivian Shapiro

Both Vivian and I are delighted to be able to congratulate Nell on reaching this milestone. For both of us, however, Nell seems to be getting younger each year, so we are not sure just what it means to be celebrating her 60th! Given our own metrics we think of Nell as only about to reach the prime of her life at least as judged by the many ways she enriches the personal and professional lives of those who are fortunate enough to share a common community with her. Please convey to Nell our hearty congratulations.

Harold Shapiro

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Judith Shapiro

Dear Nell,

You were my comrade in arms, conversations, and handicrafts during the spring of 1989 at the Center and you were a large part of what made that time so wonderful. (That loose sweater I made has just kept stretching and stretching and stretching, and would now fit Jesse Ventura.) I also remember your role in the wonderful panel we did at Bryn Mawr on women during the Civil War. Above all, though, I remember singing "Ana Hava Babanot" at your wedding and having a lot of people ask me which one of you was Jewish. Many good years since then and many more to come. It is long past time for us to get together!!

With love and fond memories,
Judith
Judith Shapiro is President of Barnard College

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Prakash Shenoy

Dear Nell,

Congratulations on your 60th birthday! I can't believe you are 60. We (Glenn's friends at KU) don't hold any grudges for taking Glenn away from us.

Best wishes,
Prakash Shenoy

PS Hooray to Glenn for doing this website. If I tried to do something similar for Cathy (and reveal her age to the entire world), she would kill me.

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Jill & Norman Sheppard

Dear Nell

Seeing we are celebrating your 60th birthday, we guess it's not embarassing to begin by saying we've known you for a little over half that number of years.

The first time you came to stay with us we've never forgotten: the whole family - us, Tim, the cat Sheba, and even Rosette, the North African au pair - all fell for your charm, and nearly crowded you out of the room!

Since then we've corresponded (irregularly), visited in Britain, France, Berlin and Maine (erratically). Jill (a mediaevalist) has learnt something new each time. Norman has acquired some choice knitwear (still feels good). Jill has particularly appreciatged receiving so many of your publications, which as an averagely ignorant Brit, have taught her a great deal about your country.

It was quite clear when Frank came to stay where some of the niceness, charm and other characteristics came from. We have yet to meet Dona -sooner than later as we may not 'look that good when we're that old'.

We both look forward to many more letters and meetings and hopefully books. One day soon we hope to see you open your first exhibition of paintings.

Jill and Norman

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Suzanne & Larry Sherr

Dear Nell,

Happy Birthday. We want to add our good wishes to all those coming your way on this milestone event. Glad to have known you for a portion of these years. Looking forward to many more opportunities to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NELL.

Suzanne and Larry Sherr

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Ruth Simmons

Dear Nell,

Congratulations on this important milestone. When I think back to our days at Harvard, I am reminded of how long you have been a source of inspiration for me. Few can claim to be original but you are certainly in that distinctive class. While I take great pride in your many accomplishments, I am especially proud of who you are as a human being. I am pleased to be your friend, drawing inspiration like so many others from the lively and beautiful example you have set.

Thank you, dear Nell, and much love on you sixtieth!

Ruth J. Simmons

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Kathryn Kish Sklar

Dear Nell --

What a grand occasion! Enjoy every minute of your birthday. The glow of your spirit has infused with a special light the world that we inhabit as historians. Thank you for sharing your special grace so generously with the rest of us.

Kitty

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Stephanie Smallwood

Happy Birthday Nell!

As I write this birthday greeting I have on my mind a photo of eight gorgeous black women academics, ranging in age from our twenties to not quite sixty (guess who?). We are each of us beautiful in our own way, but it is our collective radiance that makes the photo truly stunning. Damn we look good! (If you've not yet seen the photo, ask Daphne to make a copy for you). This image of multi-generational brilliance and beauty (and others like it posted on this wonderful website) reminds me of something I said to you privately several years ago, about the kinds of opportunities and choices a black little girl like me could grow up to have because of the enormous impact of forebears like yourself. Wanting you to know on your sixtieth that the path paved by your choices, your courage, and your battles won and lost, is honored and cherished by those following behind you. Thank you for being the beautiful, bold trailblazer that you are!

With love and thanks,
Stephanie

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Frances Foster Smith

Nellie alerted me to this event and I think it is absolutely wonderful.

I congratulate Nell on this historical event -- a half century and a decade of living, loving and learning. I have am so grateful that I am among those who owe you for your personal interest, professional counsel, and all round example for how to live with integrity, courage and goodwill -- all the while stirring the waters with significant, serious, and "contrary" findings that help write the record right.

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Jackie & Ernest Smith
  (see photo album)

Dear Nell,

60 years make a great person.

Happy Birthday

Love,
Jackie & Ernest Smith

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Nigel Smith & Kate Flint

Dear Glenn,

We met at Val Smith's house warming party, and I heard that you were establishing a website for Nell's big birthday. If this is the case, I'd like to add our own very best wishes to Nell. In the short time we've known her, she's been a great friend and a very stimulating presence.

Best wishes,
Nigel Smith (Associate Chair, English Dept., Princeton University)
Kate Flint (English Dept., Rutgers University)

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Valerie Smith

Dear Nell,

I continue to be dazzled and inspired by your brilliance, energy, wisdom, productivity, warmth, passion and sheer gorgeousness. I hope that your sixtieth birthday will mark the beginning of a new and even more stunning stage of your life, one rich with ideas, health, love, beauty and grace.

With love,
Val
Valerie Smith
Princeton University

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Rick Sobel

Nell, Congratulations on the celebration of the your 60th birthday. A few highlights of our work together stand out: First is the creation of what is now the annual Norfleet/Simpson book prize for community leadership when you were acting chair at Afro-Am in 1991. Second is serving as (head?) preceptor of your course on the history of the American South and learning about geography, literature, labor, family and music. Third is being a political scientist described and mentored by you as a "budding young historian." Fourth was participating in your New History Seminar at your home. Finally and more locally, it was fun meeting you with Skip Gates in Harvard Square before your talk on Sojourner Truth at the Brattle Theater. For all these and many more, I send my thanks and most expressive greetings for a wonderful celebration and many more to come.

Best,
Rick Sobel

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Hortense Spillers

Yes, Glenn! Please tell Nell that her "elder" sends her congratulations. I was sixty on 24 April! One of these years, we should have a joint party for all the sixties people. My suggestion: we all go to Milan together and shop! I'd have done it this year if I could have gotten out of classes.

All my best to you and Nell.
Hortense

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Rajendra Srivastava

Dear Nell:

Congratulations on your 60th birthday! You look too young to be sixty! By the way, I turned sixty too last month (July 5) and I don't feel it or think that I am that old.

I wish you a happy, healthy, and productive years ahead.

Raj
Rajendra Srivastava
Lawrence, Kansas

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Anne & Dorothy Sterling

Happy Birthday, Nell.

Love, Dorothy Sterling

(and Happy Birthday from me too; Best Wishes, Anne Sterling)

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Lillian & Ted Stewart

Happy Birthday Nell!

Ted and I are so happy to join your family and friends in wishing you a happy 60th birthday. Because our birthdays are a day apart, I love the way we have contacted each other by phone or by mail on our birthdays every year. I treasure those moments.

Happy Birthday Nell!

Enjoy your day.........Enjoy your year.....Celebrate,

We love you.
Lillian & Ted

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Margaret Stortz

Dear Nell,

What a wonderful idea that Glenn has......to put up lots of birthday greetings on your website. I am so pleased to have been invited by your mother to participate. 60 is another of those great milestones which can be viewed with some ambivalence. (Am I older? Am I wiser? Can I be both, or simply older?) This took place in my life seven years ago right around this time. (My birthday is just four days before yours.) It took me awhile to adjust to this turn of the decade, but it also became the road in to another phase of my life. After 60, I retired; I returned to University life; I got a Degree; I set up a Master's Program. So I know that this time portends great possibilities for you. There are many "next steps" ahead for you, and you are in a more wonderful position than ever to walk into them. Like fine wine, time has done well by you. Here's to a magnificent Celebration...........and of course, many more.

Only The Best!
Margaret Stortz

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Carol Swain
  (see photo album)

Congratulations Nell Painter!

What a wonderful tribute for a woman of your distinction and grace. Indeed, you have been a shining inspiration for many, many people.

May God continue to prosper you and Glenn with good health and longevity. Always remember that you are much too blessed to be stressed.

Remember also the words of the wise King Solomon: "Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity." His conclusion after much reflection was that man should "fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man." Never, never be too much of an intellectual to recognize the power and authority that God continues to exercise over our lives.

Your Born Again in Christ Friend,

Carol M. Swain
Vanderbilt University

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Howard Taylor

FWow -- 60th! Not that I'm admitting that I am there yet, but there is a social-psychological principle at work; it goes something like this: The closer you get to an age, the younger it sounds to you. Right? Remember how old 30, then 40, etc sounded until you reached those ages? Hence, 60 should sound not-so-old today, now that you are there, Nell!! BUT: problem! Sixty STILL sounded old to me when I turned 60 (a mere few seconds ago) and so I trust 60 still sounds old to you, as well! So there.

But you have got this wonderful baby face! That's a decided asset, so don't take what I am saying as even vaguely insulting!

This is all to say: Warm congratulations to you, baby face and all, on your 60th! Aren't you enjoying your cabin in the wooded mountains? By the way: Aug 2 is Leo -- right? I thought so.

Love -- Howard Taylor

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Rosalyn Terborg-Penn

My dear friend and colleague Nell, do you believe that we have known one another now nearly half of our lives? What a pleasant thought for me, because I treasure our friendship and welcome you to the "sixty" club. In celebrating this milestone in your life, let me say that I must congratulate you for looking wonderful, for becoming a major scholar in our field, for being a master teacher with former Ph.D. students who have become part of your legacy, and for supporting your fellow scholars whenever they call upon you for assistance. I certainly have benefited through the years from your kindness and generosity.

Here's to a long and continued productive life, and twenty-five years from now when you reach Dona Irvin's age, "I hope you look that good when you're that old."

Fond and sincere wishes,
Rosalyn

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Joshua Theriot & Vera Winston

Dear Nell,

You will soon celebrate your 60th birthday. Vera and I wish you a Happy Birthday and a glorious celebration.

Joshua Theriot and Vera Winston

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Felicia Thomas

Nell,
You are an exemplary scholar,
a wonderful teacher,
a caring mentor,
and a generous friend.
Happy 60th birthday.
You wear it well, but then you are a queen.

Felicia

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Robert Tignor

Nell,

My congratulations to you on reaching the sixty mark, which, as you know, is no longer the speed limit on the super highways. You are certainly on one of the super highways, and you have a free, get out of jail card to cruise along at any speed you like. It seems just a short time ago that you came to dinner over at our house as we tried to persuade you that Princeton was the place for you. We succeeded, and I am sure that you are not sorry that you came. Lots of good students and lots of intellectual excitement, made all the better by your lively inputs. How long ago was that? Quite a few years, I imagine. Many more happy returns and many more books, articles, speeches, and the like.

Bob Tignor

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Kate Torrey

To Nell--a marvelous writer, an insightful historian, and a fearless scholar--with love, admiration, and all good wishes on the occasion of your 60th birthday. May you revel not only in the day but in all the marvelous things that lie ahead for you. Congratulations on all your many achievements and contributions, Kate 

Kate Douglas Torrey
Director, UNC Press

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Alan Trachtenberg

Nell,

It's a pleasure to greet you on this milestone birthday. I think back to the revived American Writers Congress of years ago, China, your visits to Yale, countless meetings here and there. Keep going!

Alan

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Richard Turits

Dear Nell,

Happy 60th birthday! May it be a joyous one and prelude to new joys and accomplishments as well. It's wonderful having you as a colleague, learning from you, working with you, sharing music with you...

All best wishes, Richard

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Bill Tuttle

Dear Nell,

Happy Birthday!

You're still as beautiful as you were when we became friends in 1972. I was a fellow at the time at the Charles Warren Center. You were finishing your doctorate and serving, as I recall, as the director of a residence hall at Radcliffe.

In fact, one of my fondest memories of you dates from that time and from the living room in that very dormitory. You had arranged an informal talk by Flo Kennedy. The place was packed. Flo, wearing that big bullet on a chain around her neck, was provocative and "right on." And then Martin Kilson arrived to confront her over some issue. The tension mounted as both he and Flo got louder. I looked over to see how you, as the official in charge, was reacting to this contretemps. And you were beaming, thoroughly enjoying the entire spectacle.

Nell, you have always stood for personal integrity and honesty, and you have fought your whole life for racial and gender equality and for social democracy.

It's been a pleasure being your friend all these years.

Happy Birthday, Nell.

Love,
Bill
Bill Tuttle
Professor of American Studies
University of Kansas
Lawrence, KS 66045

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Joe VanZandt

Dear Nell,

I am not sure that anyone deserves congratulations for merely living to the age of 60, but to have lived those 60 years in a manner as remarkable and distinguished as you have done is indeed a cause for celebration. I remember first meeting you in Glenn's home in Lawrence, long before I knew or appreciated the extent of your accomplishments. Your grace, natural ease and engaging personality put me immediately at ease. I was delighted to see the growth and consummation of your relationship with Glenn. The joy you brought to Glenn's life was, and remains, immeasurable. Over the years, I have gradually come to know and admire your work in history and historical biography; I assure you, my admiration of the work and its author would not have been diminished had I not been so fortunate as to count you and Glenn among my friends. I send you my deepest best wishes on the occasion of your 60th birthday; may the coming decades be as fruitful and full of joy as the first six have been.

With warmest regards and deepest admiration, I wish you a wonderful birthday!

Yours in friendship,
Joe D. VanZandt
Lawrence, Kansas

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Margaret Rose Vendryes
   (see photo album)

Dearest Nell,

Make art Nell!!! Take William James's advice, "the right time is anytime."

Although we have had precious few moments together, each and every one is etched in my memory. I still laugh when I recall how you took one look at Richmond Barthé's mother and said she looked like more of a man than her son!! You are proof that the academic life does not drain the humor out of a scholar. There are times that I question what I am doing in the academy. Often the fit feels uncomfortable. Times like these, women like you, who openly revel in the joys of work and play, remind me that adjustments can be made to create a better fit.

You are an inspiration to do more, do what's best, be true to self, and have a good time at it. Thank you for including me in your circle of friends. I know that the artists in us will always remain connected.

All good things, M

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Volodya Vovk

Dear Nell -- Happy birthday! Many thanks for your support, generosity and forgiveness during Glenn's and my sporadic but frantic efforts to finish "Probability and Finance...". Congratulations and best wishes for the next 60 years; always remain the combination of beauty, wisdom and warmness that you are now.

Volodya

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Juliet Walker

2 August 2002

Happy, Happy Birthday, Nell

A Top Ten List in the Life of an Extraordinary Woman,
     A Historian's Historian Who Exemplifies The Best in How To Be All That We Can Be

10. A True Friend Who Encourages Others
9. A Woman of Honor
8. A Woman of Integrity
7. A Woman of Dignity
6. A Woman Who Opens Doors for Others
5. A Woman of Charm and Excellence
4. A Woman Who Seeks Truth
3. A Woman With A Sense of a Humor
2. A Woman Who Embraces Life
1. A Woman Who Celebrates Life

Dear Nell,

Again, Happy Birthday! Can thirty years have passed since I first heard of Nell Painter, the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in history at Harvard University? We all stood in awe of you. I know I did. And, today, we continue to stand in awe, and you continue to be not only the first woman with a Harvard, Ph.D. in history and, I believe, the only one. And, this is the Twenty-first Century, only seventeen more years to 2019, to four centuries of our history in this nation!

Over the years, you have certainly been a model for me as a historian, especially in the pursuit of excellence in scholarship. (This letter is not about me, but I don't think I would have won some thirteen awards for my publications if I had not had you as a model, who was in the forefront to show that black women could earn distinction for excellence in scholarship), So, not only have you earned distinctions for your contributions to scholarship, you have brought others along the way. For me, as well as so many others, Nell Painter is a woman who writes letters, a woman who has opened doors in this profession for those seeking promotions, jobs, grants and fellowships, manuscript reviews. You have counseled, you have encouraged. You have been a confidant for so many as we have negotiated the academic terrain. You have told us, we are not alone. And, you have not been afraid to write honest commentaries on what it has been like for black scholars in negotiating the academic terrain.

So, today, we celebrate your birthday, but what stands out are the so many gifts you have given others over the years. And, now, you are 60, but for those who embrace life age, like they say, is nothing but a number. You write books, you lecture and, now, from what you said, as the honored guest speaker at the 2001 Association of Black Women Historians annual luncheon, you continue to add new dimensions: you paint, indeed, a Renaissance Woman of the Twenty-first Century. Girl, you got it going on! So, while I offer congratulations to you on your birthday, I am so happy that I can also thank you again for all the gifts you have given me over the years. -Best always,

Love ya'
Juliet E. K. Walker
Department of History
University of Texas at Austin

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Jack Washington

Nell, your scholarship and giving nature is an inspiration to us all. May you continue to do the work of a scholar and demonstrate the kind of friendship that has won you much admiration among your peers. Best wishes on your 60th birthday.

Jack Washington

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Jean Washington

Dearest Nell,

Congratulations on your SIXTIETH Birthday.

It wasn't that long ago, when I thought age 60 was . . . well, let's say, I couldn't imagine it. I am so happy to say that your youthfulness, energy, spirit, beauty, and brains defy all illusions of age as it was once perceived in my mind. You've come to represent that quality of agelessness that is encouraging to many, including myself, as we all traverse the path of celebrating annual birthdays which seem to come more quickly as years go by.

I am so very glad we had an opportunity to work together and that I came to know a Black woman historian whom I can deeply admire, respect, and be proud of. I'm especially proud of how you made PAAS (Program in African-American Studies) more visible on the Princeton Campus: Small and Large Conferences, Lectures, PAAS Fellows, Mid-Atlantic Study Group, Informing Princeton, African-American Forums, Senior Theses Awards, Research Awards, Senior Faculty Searches, Dissertation Fellow program to name a few. All of the programs you implemented and revived left a positive, lasting effect on the Program in the short and long terms. You set the groundwork for making African American Studies a permanent academic discipline at a highly respected university. Your directorship term can only be described as a 'job well done.'

I look forward to your new books. I will be particularly interested in your topics; you write so well. In closing, let it be known, I will miss your presence in the town of Princeton where the Program was always assured by you of having a wonderful place to have events. Thank you so much for all.

Happy Birthday and Best Wishes for a wonderful day,
Jean

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Elwood Watson

To a demonstrably first-rate scholar who has contributed insurmountably to the historical profession. May God bless you and may heaven continue to smile upon you.

Elwood Watson
East Tennessee State University

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Kitsi Watterson
   (see photo album)

RING A BELL FOR NELL
with love always, from Kitsi

Nell, Nell, Nell,
Does that name ring a bell?

Oh yes, she's the one who soars like a kite,
And she's the one who stands up to fight.
And she's the one so mighty fine, the one who
Is looking at that thing, the Color Line.

She's the one who wrote Sojourner Truth,
and another book on those dusty travelers
heading toward Duluth. She also wrote the story
of Hosea Hudson and his Party's search for glory.

She's the one who chats you up in French
Who knits sweaters as she's sitting on the bench,
Who picks up German in a year, and examines
Our primitive notions of beauty and fear.

She's the one whose cat, Ol Gert, comes in
And out, and she's the one who gives a shout
When something is goin' wrong—that same
Sweet friend who always welcomes your song.

And now the day has come when our belle,
That beautiful Nell, is going to really shine,
When she says, no apologies, no retreat,
"I do what I do, and isn't that neat."

And as cuts her swath through time,
She leads us again, from the front of the line
To show us how, in her own way, that Sixty,
After all that living, is still sexy and nifty.

So, Happy Birthday, Nell, my dear pal.
You are loved, superb, and so very swell.
Let's just live and live and live again
Running these rapids with a shove and a grin.

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Ford & Harriot Weiskittel

Dear Nell,

Happy Birthday! We hope you have a wonderful celebration. We haven't known you for very many of those years, but we keep thinking that those flowers that Glenn gives you every day is only fair in return for the flowers of your life that you have brought him. May you flower for many more years!

Best wishes on your 60th birthday,
Ford and Harriot

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Madeline Wells

Dear Nell,

Happy Birthday to my friend from long ago and over many years. When we get together it's fun to reminisce...about 34th Street in Oakland, and our many school adventures like the Jazz Club, and do you remember the first time we went to The Blackhawk and heard The MJQ? I'm so happy we've remained in touch. It's a unique experience to share a friendship of such longevity. I feel blessed to know you. May you enjoy continued good health, happiness, and prosperity.

Madeline Wells

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Cornel West

Dear Sister Nell,

How blessed we are to have you in the world for 60 years! Happy Birthday!

Cornel West

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Hollie West

Dear Nell,

During our many talks at Harvard nearly 30 years ago, we sometimes wondered whether it would be better to be rich or famous. You always said fame was preferable. I opted for wealth. Now, years later, I'm definitely not rich. But you are more than famous--you are distinguished, a renowned scholar and model professional. The urgent mission is to make you rich so that you can have the best of both worlds. How about taking a few chances on the lottery!

Happy birthday! The best to you for many more years!
Hollie

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Deborah Gray White

Happy Birthday Nell. May you spit on the sidewalk and wear purple as much as you damn well please. Keep on showing me how to get to where you are, and together let's talk and put our feet up and throw back - as we remember the yesterdays and prepare for the tomorrows.

Deborah Gray White

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Sharon Wiggins

Hi, Nell.

We have never met, but I've seen you on TV on PBS!

Hope this milestone celebration for you is very happy. My 60th passed by without too much fanfare. But this year will be different. I will be 62 on August 5th and I have made my little trip down to the Social Security office and put my name in the pot. Now THERE'S a reason for celebration!

Wishing you a happy day and continued success.
Sharon Wiggins
(Sharon is Glenn's cousin)

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Sean Wilentz

Dear Nell,

I only wish our old pal Gutman were around to see this happy day. He was always busting his buttons over you. As we all are now.

With sixty more from here...

As ever,
Sean

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Roger Wilkins

Happy Birthday, Nell and thanks.

No, not thanks for turning 60, but for, with your words and your being, helping to give me the courage 15 years ago to change careers to become a teacher of history. And also for teaching me with your writing...your Sojourner Truth will always be my Sojourner Truth. And for being a wonderfully generous scholar and colleague.

About being 60....Patrica turned 60 the other day and tells me it's no big deal. I wouldn't know, because I don't remember it. All my love,
Roger

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Chad Williams

Happy 60th birthday Nell! I have been so fortunate to have the opportunity to learn from you and have someone as phenomenal as yourself to guide me through graduate school and academia. You have always been, and continue to be, a bedrock of support, a source of mentorship, and a fountain of knowledge. I must admit, working with Professor Painter as a wide-eyed first year graduate student fresh out of college is an intimidating experience. You challenged me, as you do with all of your students, in ways that most professors fail to do. I quickly realized, however, that this was reflective of the serious commitment you take to teaching and the faith you held in us to become successful scholars. You often see the promise in us that other people fail to recognize. For this I am so grateful.

Over the past four years, you have played an invaluable role in my maturation as a graduate student and budding historian. In so many ways my nascent scholarship bears your name. This was recently confirmed to me by my father, who after reading the introduction to Southern History Across the Color Line told me "I can see Nell Painter's influence throughout your work." You have shaped the careers and intellectual development of so many individuals that your legacy will persist for generations. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this legacy. I promise that I will continue to do my part to continue the Nell Painter tradition of excellence. Again, a big happy birthday and congratulations on all of your success!

Always,
Chad Williams

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Connie & Preston Williams

HAPPY BIRTHDAY NELL!!

You are a dear friend bonded to us by so many, many things. We can't think of you without recalling your extraordinary intelligence, physical beauty, playful wit, work ethic and discipline. Our enjoyment of you is enhanced by your communication of love for your parents and Glenn. The illumination, learning, and insight gained from your books and writings are more delightful because we know the heart, mind, and labor which produced them. In the many years ahead of you to love and to work, extract every possible bit of joy and pleasure.

With best wishes and much love.
Connie & Preston Williams

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Velma Willaims

What a lovely example you are for all of us. It has been a privilege to know you. We love you very much.

Velma Willaims

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Patricia Willis

Happy Sixtieth Birthday to Nell
To the phenomenal woman who has aged to perfection,
     I salute you.
This decade will continue to offer you blessings abound.
     I love you.
This greeting is from my heart.
      Love, Madame Pooh

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Francille Wilson

July 15, 2002

Dearest Nell,

Happy Birthday! The only time I've fretted more over what I wanted to say publicly to you is when I was preparing for my orals. Your authoritative voice on my literary lapses, careless commas, and so much more still resonates all these years later. I've had to turn that internal Nell-in-my-head-editor off, so I can put all the affection and admiration that I feel for you in my birthday wishes. Nell, you have been my mentor, my model, and my friend almost all my adult life. Malik, the Penn baby, will be twenty-five this fall. I am grateful, humbled, and more than a bit smug to have been your first graduate student. My own work has been enriched by your tremendous generosity and your incomparable spirit. As an advisor you are without peer, imparting to each of your privileged pupils that rare combination of your total confidence in our ability and total tough mindedness that we become better scholars, work harder, write more clearly, analyze more thoroughly. I relied heavily on the notes from your classes and my orals reading list in my early teaching years, trying to at least channel your enthusiasm when falling short of your formidable preparation. I even ask myself one of your oral questions often, "do and should the periodizations of black and U. S. history differ? If so why?" Your research methods are still my chief guide: your insistence that the historian's central obligation is to place their subject firmly within his or her time. For better or worse, you brought out the hidden historiographer in me. As your oldest and most errant acolyte, thank you for always keeping the faith, for only adding direction and never drama to my journey.

While I have happily published and pontificated on your contributions to black women's history, I have not had the chance until now to speak to the model of fierce and fearless historical scholarship you have provided. Refusing to be categorized, you have tirelessly challenged much of the received wisdom in your writing from the Exodusters to Sojourner Truth. I was at Purdue in the 1980s when narrow nationalists shouted down your spirited account of Martin Delany's post emancipation conflicts with black peasants in South Carolina and later in Memphis when as "the historian from hell" your clever, respectful, and prescient call for an African American survey which had music and oral history was disingenuously rebuked. I'm not sure that I've ever told you then how much your public courage has meant to me as I tried to find my own way in the profession. How lackluster and limited our field would be with out your insights, how impoverished your students and colleagues would be without the steady intellectual capital of your boldness and daring.

Nell, my dear friend, how glad I am you are sixty, looking so good and still very much at the top of your game. The source of your inner glow and energy was mysterious to me until I met your fabulous parents. Do you remember that after Hosea Hudson you used to threaten to just quit being in the academy and become a seamstress? I selfishly thank goodness that you kept the sewing as a sideline because no one else could have made the difference that you have as a truly heaven sent historian. Not that I would ever refuse a Nell Painter made garment, scarf or sweater. Have a wonderful day and a wonderful sixty more years. May the blessings of the Lord, our old gods and goddesses, the ancestors, and the muses continue with you always.

Much love,
Francille

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James Wilson

Dearest Nell,

Happy 60th Birthday to you!! I was so pleased that Glenn extended this wonderful opportunity to all of us to celebrate your birthday together, to tell you how proud we are of your numerous talents and accomplishments.

As one of the graduate students in the history department at Princeton, I would like to thank you for being a mentor with a special gift for doing thoughtful deeds, for offering encouragement to address our various needs. For knowing when to be there with a helping hand to lend, and for having the gift of knowing how to be a friend.

I am honored to have studied with you at Princeton University, and I strongly believe, had I not followed my passion to study East African History, I would have gladly joined the pecking order of all of your outstanding graduate students. However, I am proud to be your only "official step-graduate student" at Princeton. Thank you for enriching my intellectual development, and I wish you many more birthdays to come.

Ninakupenda sana rafiki, (Swahili for "I love you very much my friend")

James A. Wilson, Jr.

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Elaine Wise

My Dear NIP,

I send my warmest good wishes and heartiest congratulations to you on your promotion to the 60s. It was my great good fortune to be able to accompany you in small part on your journey through the 50s. Our paths have since parted but not our spirits. Here's to the next 60 years--may they bring everything you wish.

With abiding affection, I still remain
Your EW

Elaine Wise

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Robert Paul Wolff

I am enormously pleased and very flattered to have the opportunity to contribute to the celebration of Nell's sixtieth birthday. There is an old custom in China, according to which, when you reach sixty, you are given a yellow jacket, which, when you are wearing it, gives you permission to speak the unvarnished truth. I suspect Nell has been wearing an inner yellow jacket all her life.

I met Nell fifteen years ago, when we participated in the [naturally unsuccessful] effort by Harvard alums to get Harvard to divest itself of shares in companies doing business in South Africa. A while later, I joined the Afro-American Studies Department at UMass, and began to learn from my colleagues just how distinguished an historian my old comrade-in-arms really is. Since that time, I have come to appreciate first-hand the brilliance of her work in such books as The Exodusters and Sojourner Truth. The passion, precision, and intelligence that I loved in her as a person shines through her writings, making her one of the most exciting scholars now working on the history of the African-American experience.

May I say just a word about Nell's relationship to the recent flap over the movement of some of the so-called Dream Team from Harvard to Princeton? I have nothing but affection for Cornell West, and respect for Athoney Appiah [whom I have not met], but the truth is that at Princeton they will shine by the reflected light from Nell's star, not the other way around. The press has managed to make it sound as though Princeton only acquiures a true Afro-American Studies Department with their arrival. The truth is that Princeton's scholarly distinction in our field has long exceeded that of Harvard, precisely because of Nell's presence there. However, as the Good Book says, "A prophet is not without honor ..."

Robert Paul Wolff
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Michael Wood

Dear Nell,

What a pleasure to be able to greet you in this mode on your birthday. We want to salute your work, of course, and your distinction and mind and intellectual authority; but also, and perhaps especially on such an occasion, your laughter and your courage. I remember in particular a day when you and I left a long (and fruitless) session with the Committee of Three and adjourned to the Annex for a stiff drink and some grim jokes. I thought then, and I still think, this is a person who doesn't know the meaning of defeat. How admirable, and how unusual. Many happy returns, and fondest wishes.

Michael Wood

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Patricia Woolf & Giles Constable

Dear Nell,

We shall be thinking of you and Glenn on your birthday, and send you our best wishes for many happy returns. Few people in Princeton have known you as long as Giles and he rejoices in your success and happiness.

Love from us both,
Pat & Giles

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Jean & Ed Yellin

A theoretician named Nell
Does History remarkable well

To Race, Gender and Class
She adds her own sass

Now she's 60 - but, hey, who can tell?

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
Jean & Ed

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Henry Yu

Happy 60th birthday, Nell. When I was a lost sheep at Princeton, you helped shepherd me through, and I will never forget the encouragement and guidance you gave me. There are so many ways that I learned from your example, but perhaps the most important lessons were your belief in the importance of what you were doing, and that the world could be changed for the better. I only hope I can repay some of my debt to you by passing on some of the lessons learned to students who have not had to good fortune of knowing you...

Best wishes,
Henry Yu
History and Asian American Studies, UCLA

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Livio Zeller-Celso

Hello! Happy Birthday.

Love
Livio

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