Kollman speaker Elizabeth Fenn

About the Kollman Lectures

Since 1984, the history department has brought a number of distinguished speakers to campus as part of the Eric C. Kollman Memorial Lecture Series. Kollman was a distinguished professor of history at Cornell College from 1944 until his retirement in 1973.

During those years he inspired awe, respect, and affection for his scholarship, his commitment to teaching, and the friendly counsel he gave to his students. He taught frequently in summer sessions at many universities in the United States and Canada, and, on leaves of absence, at the universities of Mainz, Kiel, and Köln. In 1973 his biography of Theodor Koerner, a post-World War II president of Austria, was published in Vienna.

Kollman's life was touched by many of the major events of twentieth century history. He was born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire before the First World War and lived through the breakup of that empire. His formal education was completed in the 1920s with a doctorate from the University of Vienna. In addition to his major subjects of history and German literature, he studied philosophy, psychology, education, and geography. He was pursuing a teaching career when Nazi German occupation of Austria forced him into exile.

Kollman arrived in the United States in 1938, just before the outbreak of World War II, part of a group of outstanding European Jewish scholars and artists who were fortunate enough to escape Hitler's minions and bring to their new homeland their considerable gifts. From Vienna alone, this group included Bruno Bettelheim, Paul Lazarsfeld, Rudolph Serkin, and Robert Kann, all friends of Eric Kollman. In 1979, Kollman was one of 100 exiled Austrians invited by the Austrian government to Vienna to be honored on the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the second Austrian Republic.

Cornell College awarded Kollman an honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters, in 1977.

Elizabeth Fenn talks to Cornellians

Past Speakers

Elizabeth Fenn, University of Colorado Boulder, 2016
“Sakagawea’s Capture and the History of the Early West”

Saul Cornell, Fordham University, 2013
“A Well Regulated Militia: The Second Amendment as History and Myth”

Timothy Naftali, Director of the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, 2007
"Why Are We Scared?: Real and Imagined Dangers in the Cold War and Today"

Gary Wills, Northwestern University, 2004
"The Burden of Slavery in American History"

Polo Nello, University of Pisa, 2000
"Mussolini and Hitler: Real Friends?"

Dennis L. Bark, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, 1997
"What Counts? and, How I Count It!"

Diane Ravitch, New York University, 1996
"Reflections on the History Wars"

William H. McNeill, University of Chicago, 1995
"World History: Why and How?"

Natalie Zemon Davis, Princeton University, 1993
"Storytelling and Spirituality: The Autobiography of a 17th Century Jewish Woman"

Peter Gay, Yale University, 1993
"The Art of Listening: From Entertainment to Ecstasy"

Francis Jennings, McNickle Center, Newberry Library, 1992
"America in 1492"

Enno E. Kraehe, University of Virginia, 1991
"Diplomacy and Revolution: The Advice of Prince Metternich"

David Schoenbaum, University of Iowa, 1988
"The Atlantic Alliance at 40: The Alliance as History"

Robert A. Rutland, University of Virginia, 1987
"Character and Constitution: James Madison's Role in Creating the U.S. Constitution"

Walter P. Metzger, Columbia University, 1985
"The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb"

Carl R. Schorske, Princeton University, 1994
"Politics and Humanistic Culture: The Case of Basel"