Gerald Saxon Brown taught at U-M from 1946 to 1981. The American Past (coauthored with Sidney Fine) was a popular textbook in college-level history courses.

The University of Michigan Department of History is pleased to announce a major gift from Catherine and Gary Andrejak commemorating Catherine’s father and former History faculty member Gerald Saxon Brown (1911-1999).

The Gerald Saxon Brown Fund for Public Engagement will support projects that make historical research relevant and accessible to students and the public.

“My father spent his entire adult life as a teacher and was most proud of his 32 years as a professor in the History Department of the University of Michigan. The enrichment of his students always came first. We wish to honor my father’s memory and also contribute to the enhancement of the student learning experience at Michigan,” said Catherine Andrejak.  “I know he would be pleased.”  

The fund will have an almost immediate impact in the department: In 2019-20, the Andrejaks’ gift will support a digital skills and public engagement internship for a U-M History PhD student.

“The timing here is really ideal, as Michigan History is launching major initiatives in public engagement and career diversity,” said Jay Cook, chair of the department. “Our students and faculty are eager to apply their knowledge to real world problems, and the Andrejaks’ gift will play a foundational role in launching these efforts. We are very grateful for their vision and generous support of our most exciting current projects.”

Brown was born in Port Maitland, Nova Scotia. He earned his BA and MA in history from Acadia University. World War II interrupted his pursuit of a doctorate. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1942, where he rose to the rank of flight lieutenant. In 1946 he resumed his studies and earned his PhD in history from the University of Minnesota in 1948.

Brown completed dissertation research at the Clements Library in 1940 and began teaching at Michigan in 1948. His research focused on the British Empire. His publications included Canada and the United States (with B. Keenleyside, 1952), The American Past: Conflicting Interpretations of the Great Issues (with Sidney Fine, 1961), and The American Secretary (1963). He retired at the rank of full professor in 1980 and was designated professor emeritus by the Board of Regents in 1981.

As colleague Sidney Fine noted in the official memorial for the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, “Professor Brown’s former students will remember his elegant and beautifully delivered lectures, his fair-minded appraisal of their academic work, his warmth, and his accessibility. His colleagues will remember him as the very model of the scholar and the gentleman.”

Professor Brown considered the university “a benevolent institution” and the Andrejaks’ gift in his honor will ensure that History continues to be at the forefront of the university’s service in the public good.