Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

Charles Tilly 1929-2008

On 29 April 2008 the American sociologist and historian Charles Tilly died of lymphoma. For twenty years Professor Tilly served the International Institute of Social History as a formal and informal adviser, and made significant contributions to our academic and editorial policies. We will remember him as a wise and generous friend.

Charles Tilly was born May 27, 1929, in Lombard, Ill., and studied at Harvard University, earning the bachelor's degree magna cum laude in 1950 and the Ph.D. in sociology in 1958. He also studied at Balliol College, Oxford, and the Catholic University of Angers, France, and served in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. Before arriving at Columbia in 1996, Tilly taught at the University of Delaware, Harvard, the University of Toronto, the University of Michigan and The New School for Social Research. In addition, he held several short-term research and teaching appointments at universities throughout Europe and North America during the course of his career.

Tilly was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Sociological Research Association and the Ordre des Palmes Academiques. In addition to his theoretical and substantive interests, Tilly wrote extensively on the subject of research methodology. His writings touched on epistemology, the nature of causality, process analysis, the use of narrative as a method for historical explanation, mechanism-based explanations, contextual analysis, political ethnography, and quantitative methods in historical analysis, among many topics.

During his lifetime Tilly received several prominent awards, including: the Common Wealth Award in sociology (1982); the Amalfi Prize for Sociology and Social Sciences (1994); the Eastern Sociological Society's Merit Award for Distinguished Scholarship (1996); the American Sociological Association's Career of Distinguished Scholarship Award (2005); the International Political Science Association's Karl Deutsch Award in Comparative Politics (2006); the Phi Beta Kappa Sidney Hook Memorial Award (2006); and the Social Science Research Council's Albert O. Hirschman Award (2008). In addition, he was awarded honorary doctorates in social sciences from Erasmus University, Rotterdam (1983); the Institut d'Etudes Politiques, University of Paris (1993); the University of Toronto (1995); the University of Strasbourg (1996); the University of Geneva (1999); the University of Crete (2002); the University of Quebec at Montreal (2004); and the University of Michigan (2007).

In 2001, Columbia's sociology graduate students named Tilly the Professor of the Year. He authored, co-authored, edited or co-edited 51 published books and monographs and over 600 scholarly articles. His major works include The Vendee: A Sociological Analysis of the Counter-Revolution of 1793 (1964); As Sociology Meets History (1981); Big Structures, Large Processes, Huge Comparisons (1984); The Contentious French (1983); European Revolutions 1492-1992 (1993); Cities and the Rise of States in Europe: A.D. 1000 to 1800 (1994); Popular Contention in Great Britain, 1758-1834 (1995); Durable Inequality (1998); Transforming Post-Communist Political Economies (1998); Dynamics of Contention (2001); Social Movements 1768-2004 (2004); Trust and Rule (2005); Why? (2006); and Democracy (2007).


6 May 2008