Historian, veteran to explore holiday traditions


A Bronze Star, United States Army veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam wars and a nationally acclaimed historian will be giving an exclusive lecture, “Wartime Christmases,” which will be aired nationally.

Stanley Weintraub, in his prolific authorship of over 60 published books wrote six that are totally dedicated to the historical study of the celebrations of Christmas during some of the most distressing moments of key wars in the history of the United States. A product of Penn State University, Weintraub is both an expert in his field and a highly respected individual in the world of wartime history.

As some of his most well-known pieces of writing, his books on the historical aspects of Christmas in the midst of war discuss a topic that is particularly meaningful for Christian Americans. Combining the history of the nation’s highest and lowest points with one of the most foundational Christian holidays in a retrospective analysis can be very enlightening, but also effective in spreading the awareness of such rich history.

In the recent weeks leading up to the lecture itself, questions have been floating around as to why such a talk would be given at Franciscan. As it turns out, there is more of a connection between Franciscan and Weintraub than most people might assume.

History professor Robert Doyle is a faculty member here at Franciscan who is an alumnus of Penn State University as well. He also happens to be a close friend of Weintraub’s and has spent many years in professional association and collaboration with him.

“Stanley and I met,” Dr. Doyle said, “in 1973 at a folk lore fiddlers’ competition. We became closer afterwards and eventually conducted a good deal of research on folk lore in general from about ’73 to ’81.”

As a Fulbright scholar himself, Doyle is also highly experienced in the field of American history. Having taught at Franciscan since 2001, he is well acquainted with the university. He also has a more intimate understanding of Weintraub as he was previously mentored in his own historical writing by Weintraub. Doyle believes the Wartime Christmases lecture will be a great event for the students and faculty both.

“Stanley believes three things make up a scholar,” Doyle went on. “Teaching, writing and associations. Stanley was a fantastic mentor to me so I know he has teaching. He has written plenty of straight-laced books on the topic. And because of the association we had, because he is a good scholar, he is now giving a nationally aired lecture here at Franciscan. Talk about a great opportunity!”

As the date grows nearer it will be beneficial to recall what Doyle said of Weintraub, “Stanley believes scholars are what they write. And he did it right.”

The talk will take place on Wednesday, October 15 at 8 p.m. in the J.C. Williams Center Gallery.