Memories of David

imagejpeg_0Please leave your thoughts, stories and memories of David below in the comment box; or if you prefer, send a note or letter to

Department of History
Old HorticultureQVzuiKjSDt5CKjWQ2vVto1i9CRIOx-OaRJL4OdBCv5I 506 E. Circle Dr
Room 256
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824.

Don’t forget to go to the Donate and Fund page to give to the David T. Bailey Undergraduate Scholarship Fund.

We will be publishing the stories and memories of David in book form for family and friends.  Be sure to check the box below if you want your memories published.

The memorial service for Professor David Bailey will be this Saturday, December 5, at 2:00, in the Alumni Memorial Chapel.


Emily Conroy-Krutz, via Teaching US History

Today I was going to write about how I took my students on a field trip last week (it went well). But I don’t want to write about that. My dear colleague and friend, David Bailey, passed away this past weekend. It feels like there is a hole in our department now, and we’re all … Continue Reading

Pero G. Dagbovie

I first met Dr. Bailey in the spring quarter of 1992 when I was an undergraduate student enrolled in his History 201 course. In this required seminar for history majors, Dr. Bailey decided to have us learn about the historian’s craft by reading …Continue Reading

C.E. Sikkenga

I was lucky enough to find myself in Professor Bailey’s History of the American South class back in my junior year at MSU in 1990/91. It was certainly the most entertaining and possibly the most useful course I took in my undergrad career. I’ve been teaching history to high school students for the past 24 years and to this day I still consult my notes from that class. Heck, sometimes I get lost in them because they’re so entertaining. If I were to make a list of the things students have liked about my classes over the years, my guess is much of it was stuff that was directly influenced by the 10 weeks I spent with Dr. Bailey. He was a prince of a guy whose warmth, humor and zest for his subject matter likely cast a wider net than he ever knew. So glad I got to cross paths with him, if only for a brief time.

Kelly Harro & Kyle Druding

My husband and I met while on a study abroad in Oxford, UK with Professor Bailey in 2009. When we heard he was sick, we wrote the email that follows. Unfortunately, Professor Bailey never got the chance to read it, a paramount reminder to both of us to express love and gratitude with urgency, before you lose the chance… Continue Reading

Benjamin Smith

I am sorry that I cannot be there beside you. And I don¹t know how to sum up how much I love you in a few lines of an email. Since I arrived at MSU in 2005, you were like a father to me …. except much smarter and funnier. I remember hanging out for long hours with you at dive bars, chatting about history, religion, department gossip, Detroit politics, Mexican mother in laws and much more…Continue Reading

Dean Rehberger, via HistoryHacks

I always find it difficult to write about friends who have left us. I can write the straight forward — like about his digital work in a blog post for Matrix. He was an amazing supporter of the digital humanities and Matrix. I always enjoyed working on projects with him…Continue Reading

Ronen Steinberg

I did not know David very well. I joined the department fairly recently, and did not really get a chance to spend much time with him. But what I do remember, and quite vividly, is that he always had a mischievous glint in his eye. He looked to me always as if he’s just about to get into trouble, like a kid who knows he’s going to get caught doing something he shouldn’t do, but just has to do it anyway. So that’s how I choose to remember David: a mischievous boy, with a naughty glint in his eye.

James F. Perra

I didn’t realize what was happening at the time, but in his playful and quiet way Professor Bailey was one of a handful of instructors who nudged me to explore how my spiritual life, my feelings about social justice, and my education could all challenge and inform each other… Continue Reading

Shanti Zaid

It is with tremendous sadness that I receive the news of Dr. David Bailey’s passing and I send my deepest condolences to his family and loved ones. I knew Dr. Bailey as a MSU undergraduate student and what always struck me most about him was the variety and consistency of his care… Continue Reading

Amy Hay

My memories of Dr. Bailey come from taking classes with him, seeing him in meetings and job talks, and his generous participation in mock interviews and research presentations. It is striking to me that the same characteristics I associate with Dr. Bailey are elucidated by Ronen Steinberg upthread. He had a sense of adventure, mischief, a _joie de vivre_… Continue Reading

Ryan Huey

My remembrance begins at the Michigan State University Department of History’s recruitment event for potential graduate students in 2012, at which I was a prospective student. When I met Dr. Bailey, it was the first face-to-face meeting I had with an MSU professor….Continue Reading

Jim Porter

I came to know David as a singularly skilled teacher and mentor with a fathomless knowledge of history. He was also a remarkably imaginative and divergent thinker who also always managed to bring his ideas to a re-convergence, but only after they had meandered far afield and gathered lots of pollen. Examples abound. Here are some things I remember….Continue Reading

Devin Evans

I had the pleasure of taking one of Dr. Bailey’s classes during my time as an undergraduate student at Michigan State University. The class was titled “American Intellectual History to 1860”, and I was intimidated at first due to him assigning readings that I have never heard of. …Continue Reading

Mike and Sue Waller

Modern knowledge is so vast that the status of polymath is no longer achievable – but David was about as close as you can get. To find such an intellect coupled with so much human decency was extraordinary. During a time of terrible sadness for our family he gave unwavering support. For us, visits to Michigan will never be the same. With the death of David the University has lost one of its brightest stars.

Sophie Carrell

Dr. Bailey was one of three wonderful professors who led a study abroad to Oxford in summer 2009. It was a powerful experience in so many ways, not least because we were living on our own at a proper Oxford college. We had a full English breakfast provided every morning, and the professors were always there to provide conversation and advice on our research or even ideas for what to do in our free time. …Continue Reading

Kyle Ciani

The day Polly Pockets, My Little Ponies, and markers of various colors entered Bailey’s American survey is the day I realized I could be comfortable as a professional historian. In the mid-1990s I had the great privilege of being one of three teaching assistants for that class (Maria Quinlan Leiby and Manelissi Gengi were the other two), where we sat spellbound along with the undergrads as he delivered one fantastic lecture after another….Continue Reading

Mark Goldsman

David was my closest friend for 50 years and these comments represent a redaction of the eulogy that I delivered at his memorial service in Buffalo on November 21. I am sure that everyone who views this website shares the tremendous sense of loss that I feel and that those feelings are tempered by only one thing- our deep appreciation for the lasting rewards that have accrued to us from knowing David whether as a family member, a teacher, a colleague or a friend. … Continue Reading

William Highland

I had the pleasure as a freshman to be enrolled in professor Bailey’s ISS 220 Time Space & Change in Human Society course, heading into the class I was only taking the class because it filled a requirement I had to get out of the way. To this day I could not be happier I got that requirement out of the way in Dr. Bailey’s section. I still carry around the notes I took in Dr. Bailey’s class because his class is the best & most interesting class I have been enrolled in at MSU. Today is Thanksgiving and though he will never know it, I cannot be more thankful for all that Dr. Bailey has done for me. Dr. Bailey’s class was one of the first classes I was enrolled in at MSU and my experience at MSU would never have been the same without him. Thank you.

Robert Super

In our lives it is so very rare that someone we meet changes our way of thinking for the better. David Bailey had that impact on me. I first met him in an American intellectual history course in the winter of 2009. The insights he offered and the intellectual challenges he presented to our class created one of the most rewarding, most positive learning experiences I had at Michigan State. … Continue Reading

Tom Summerhill

David has a very special place in my heart as a colleague, friend, and confidant. I would like to share a few thoughts and memories that are quintessentially David.

The first time I met David was during my interview at MSU in 1997. He picked me up in his station wagon–a 1980s behemoth. It was stuffed with books and papers. As we drove, he turned to me and earnestly (and dryly) explained why my Pulitzer-prize winning dissertation advisor was wrong about Southern yeoman. … Continue Reading

John Waller

I had been at Michigan State University for several weeks when a friend and colleague recommended that I drop by to see David Bailey in Morrill Hall. Like many of those with a joint appointment, I had few expectations that I would be considered a full member of my minority department. David changed that in a single interaction. … Continue Reading

Nik Ribianszky

Since I first learned of the sad news that Dr. Bailey passed away, I planned to come and pay my respects in person to this truly unique, creative, intellectual giant who profoundly influenced the way I think about history (and I daresay, so many others who knew him) but I had to change my plans at the last minute and unfortunately, will not be able to attend…Continue Reading

Darlene Clark Hine

Professor David Bailey and I became fast friends and dear colleagues across the decades since the 1980s. We shared many “deep” conversations and a lot of laughter in Morrill Hall. I trusted his judgement, admired his knowledge, and valued his advice which he gave free of charge. Ours’s was a mutual admiration club. David had a delightful sense of humor. He was amazingly insightful, and most importantly, he was kind and compassionate. His gifted wife and wonderful daughters were the joy of his life…Continue Reading

Liz Timbs

I’ve been struggling to remember the first time I met Dr. Bailey. It really bothers me that I can’t remember now, since I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget the way he left us. But I suppose, like it is for the cohorts of graduate students who had the great fortune to spend our time in Morrill Hall, Bailey was just a given once I started here in 2012. … Continue Reading

Bill Hixson


These remarks represent my attempt at an intellectual portrait of David Bailey, based on conversations over a period of more than thirty years. David was a genuinely friendly person; but beneath his affable exterior and his impressive political skills I found a man of deep moral convictions, strong opinions, fierce loyalties to the institutions in which he worked, and severe judgments on those he considered pretentious or inauthentic…Continue Reading

Tawfik Abbas

When I took my first social studies course at Michigan State, I was fortunate to have Professor Bailey. He was an incredible lecturer, who made the course so much more enjoyable, partly through his injections of humor, more than I expected. The end of ISS 220 was not the last I saw of him however. We ran into each other quite a few times at Brody dining hall, where I would stop and converse with him. He was an incredible professor that I greatly admired and am saddened by his passing. I offer my condolences to his family.




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