The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 18, Number 32, August 9, 2015, Article 8


John T Bolger writes:

Fr. Francis Paul Prucha, S.J., the author of the superb standard research, reference, and generally delightful to read text, Indian Peace Medals in American History, first published in 1971, has died. His scholarship and prolific writing went far beyond our little corner of Numismatic Americana. I knew him not except by name and deed so have attached links to a local obituary and his Wikipedia listing.

Thanks. Here's an excerpt from the obituary. -Editor

Francis Paul Prucha Fr. Prucha was called to eternal life during his sleep on July 30, 2015.

He was the oldest member of the Wisconsin Province, a Jesuit for 64 years and a priest for 58 years. Fr. Prucha was born in River Falls, Wisconsin on January 4, 1921. He graduated from River Falls State Teachers College in 1941 and served in the Army Air Corp from 1942 to 1946. He earned an M.A. in History from the University of Minnesota and a Ph.D. in History from Harvard University. In 1950 Fr. Prucha entered the Society of Jesus and was ordained a priest in 1957.

An outstanding Jesuit Scholar and Educator, Fr. Prucha was assigned to Marquette University in 1960. He remained at Marquette for fifty years even after he officially became professor emeritus. Fr. Prucha trained generations of doctoral students, published more than twenty-five books, many scholarly articles and was a major force in establishing Marquette’s rich research archives documenting Catholicism among Native Americans. His two-volume, The Great Father: The United States Government and the American Indians, published in 1985, is regarded as a classic among professional historians.

To read the complete article, see:
Fr. Francis Paul Prucha, S.J. (

... and here's more on Prucha from Wikipedia. -Editor

Prucha was born in River Falls, Wisconsin, the first son to Edward J. and Katharine Prucha and the older brother of John J. Prucha. He graduated from River Falls High School at the age of 16 in 1937 as Paul Prucha and was then educated at Wisconsin State Teachers College, at River Falls, which awarded him a Bachelors of Science degree in 1941. After a year and a half of high school teaching and then three and a half years of service in the United States Army Air Force, he enrolled in the University of Minnesota and received an M.A. degree in 1947.

Harvard University awarded him a Ph.D. degree in history in 1950 under the direction of Frederick Merk. His dissertation, a study of the role of the peacetime army in the settlement process, was published in 1953 as Broadax and Bayonet: The Role of the United States Army in the Development of the Northwest, 1815-1860.

Prucha joined the Society of Jesus in 1950 and was ordained in 1957 after studying at Saint Louis University and Saint Mary's College in St. Marys, Kansas. Three years later he began teaching at Marquette and is remembered by generations of alumni as a model of the teacher-scholar. Since 1960 he has been on the history faculty at Marquette University. He has served as visiting professor at the University of Oklahoma and at Harvard and was the Gasson Professor at Boston College.

When the editor of Marquette Magazine recently asked readers to write about their greatest teachers, Father Prucha was identified among a group of classroom legends. "Of all the teachers I've had," wrote Richard Hryniewicki (A&S '61, MA '63), "Father Prucha did the most to instill a love of learning, a quest for knowledge, and practicing work ethic."

In the late 1960s, while studying under a Guggeheim Fellowship, Prucha began work on a comprehensive history of U.S. Indian policy. His research culminated with the two-volume The Great Father: The United States Government and the American Indians. The book was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in history in 1985 and is regarded as a classic among professional historians. The Great Father was awarded the Billington Prize by the Organization of American Historians in 1985. The recipient of six honorary degrees, Prucha was awarded his emeritus appointment in 1988.

Father Prucha is also the author or editor of 25 other books of numerous articles, and scores of book reviews. He is known internationally for his expertise on the American West and United States policy towards Native Americans. Prucha also helped to establish Marquette’s rich research collections documenting Catholicism among Native Americans. As a tribute to Prucha, Marquette University's Archives and Special Collection's reading room in its newly constructed Raynor Library was named in his honor. Father Prucha was also inducted into the Milwaukee Central Library’s Wisconsin Writers Wall of Fame.

Prucha was instrumental in acquiring for Marquette University the records of the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions. There is also a collection that relates purely to Prucha and his work. The archival collections of Francis Paul Prucha includes his correspondence, books (1950–2002), articles, book reviews (1942–2002), public talks and lectures (1956–1998), courses taught (1952–1987), awards and honors (1971–2003), professional activities, research fellowships and grants (1954–2003), personal papers (1927–1993), and research materials (1955–2003).

Prucha's correspondence files could be of use to future researchers and cataloguers of Indian Peace medals. Does anyone know if Marquette University holds an medals in its collection? -Editor

To read the complete article, see:
Francis Paul Prucha (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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