The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989 Page: 52
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Southwestern Historzcal Quarterly
about. When I took leave that day, I got the first installment of Dr.
Webb's oft-spoken injunction: Be your own person; follow the impulses
of your own mind; and never fear an original idea or the possible con-
sequences of having one. For a young man needing affirmation, that
was encouraging and very heady stuff.
Since Dr. Webb was winding down his career in the late fifties, I was
never able to take his seminar, which is the one great regret of my
graduate study. Fortunately, his courses based on The Great Plains and
The Great Frontier were offered back-to-back one summer session, and,
fearing that there might not be another opportunity, I registered for
both. By that time I had crossed the Great Plains in other courses and
had read the book, so the course pretty much elaborated the familiar.
"The Great Frontier," however, was new and wildly stimulating of both
imagination and intellect. Whether The Great Frontier is sound historical
interpretation remains a secondary issue. Of great importance is that it
wrinkled my brain as few experiences have and left an abiding respect
for the likes of Walter Prescott Webb, Frederick J. Turner, Arnold
Toynbee, and now Paul M. Kennedy (The Rise and Fall of the Great Pow-
ers), whose imaginations explore grand ideas and whose courage puts
them on paper with full knowledge that many critics will see only errors
of detail and never truly address the larger interpretations.
Therein lies the greatness of Dr. Webb, the scholar-teacher. I last saw
Dr. Webb in the spring of g1960, when failing health and its attendant
discouragements weighed heavily upon him. Withal, whenever I was
with him, the feeling that characterized that first meeting in 1955 al-
ways remained: I was in the presence of an exceptional human being.
Although Dr. Webb's thought and methodology remain integral com-
ponents of my scholarly heritage, I stake no claim to having been a
Webb student, one who researched directly under his supervision.
Given, therefore, at most a peripheral professional and personal rela-
tionship, Dr. Webb certainly owed me nothing and had no tangible,
compelling reason to take a continued interest in me, my career, or my
success. But he was interested, ever helpful, and showed me unfailing
concern and kindness. Obliged to do nothing, he gave abundantly.
Therein lies the greatness of the man.
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989, periodical, 1989; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101212/m1/79/: accessed May 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.