Encyclopedia Brunoniana

Church, William F.

William Farr Church (1912-1977), professor of history, was born in Monmouth, Illinois, on December 13, 1912. He graduated from Allegheny College in 1934 and earned his master’s degree in 1935 and his Ph.D. in 1939, both from Harvard. He served as instructor in history at Gettysburg College in 1940-41 and at the University of Kentucky in 1941-42. After army duty in World War II, he came to Brown as assistant professor of history in 1947 and was promoted to associate professor in 1948 and professor in 1951. In 1960 he was named Munro, Goodwin, Wilkinson Professor of History. Church, who specialized in French political thought and was known as “one of the handful of Richelieu scholars in the world,” published Constitutional Thought in Sixteenth Century France in 1941, The Greatness of Louis XIV: Myth or Reality in 1959, and Richelieu and Reason of State in 1973. He taught courses in seventeenth and eighteenth century history and graduate courses in historiography and historical criticism. He was ill for some time before his death on November 4, 1977, in Rumford, Rhode Island. Only a few months before that he had been honored in a special ceremony at Brown held on May 6, and received a special citation which noted his contributions to the University and to scholarship and added, “the Brown Community will remember you for another remarkable achievement – the courage and steadfast purpose that has enabled you to do all these things despite ill health and long bouts of physical pain.”