by Madison Uhlrich '21
Historian Maury Klein '60 returned to campus on October 3 to present a lecture on "Learning from the Lessons of the Past" as part of Knox's Professional in Residence Series.
In addition to teaching at the University of Rhode Island for 44 years, Klein has also established successful theatre and writing careers. He is author of 18 books on topics ranging from 19th century American history and the stock market crash of 1929 to the American railroad industry.
In 2001, he received a Knox Alumni Achievement Award and an honorary degree.
Klein's lecture offered insight into the effects of history, its patterns, and human behavior as it correlates to the current social climate.
Society is always changing its ideas of right and wrong, he said, adding, "We are constantly redefining what is true and untrue." As a result of this constant change, people are divided in their ideologies, creating confusion and social conflict.
Klein was adamant that this social change and its ensuing turmoil are nothing more than a historical pattern.
Knox student Ryan Higgins '21, said he takes comfort in the logic of Klein's reasoning. "It was a nice lecture with a hopeful message for the future—that the crazy times will end eventually," said Higgins.
Owen D. Muelder '63, director of the Galesburg Colony Underground Railroad Freedom Station at Knox, also had the opportunity to attend the lecture. Muelder was a first-year student at Knox when Klein was a senior. Even now, as contemporaries in the same field, they remain good friends. Of Klein's presentation, Muelder says, "What sticks out to me the most is his reiteration of history as a series of gray areas, and his assertion that our current events are only historic patterns, soon to end."
If you recognize these truths, Klein says, you can better understand why our society is in the state it is in, and how we might be able to prevent similar situations in the future. "If you use history right, it will end up not using you," he says.
In addition to the lecture, Klein interacted with students at breakfast and luncheon forums and meetings.
One of those students was Natasha Caudill '20. "Meeting with him was really wonderful," she says. "He was really encouraging about my plans and what I've been doing, and hearing that reassurance was a little bit of what I needed."
Caudill adds, "The biggest advice or inspiration that I took away from talking to him was when he told me to let all the experiences I've had make an impact on what I do in the future."