In Memoriam: David Peterson, Professor of History Emeritus Peterson taught at W&L for more than 20 years.
David Peterson, professor of history emeritus, died on Feb. 25, 2023. He was 71.
Peterson held a bachelor’s degree in history from the College of William and Mary and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He earned a master’s degree from Edinburgh University, and both a master’s degree and doctorate in history from Cornell University.
Peterson joined the Washington and Lee faculty as an assistant professor of history in 1999. He was promoted to associate professor in 2002, and to full professor in 2009. Peterson served as chair of the history department from 2013-2017. He was also the head of W&L’s Medieval and Renaissance program from 2003-2012 and returned as the program’s acting head from 2013-2014. He retired from W&L in 2020.
Peterson’s research focused on the relationship between religion and politics, church history, and political thought, especially in medieval and Renaissance Italy. At W&L, he taught courses in European Medieval, Renaissance and Reformation history; European Medieval and Renaissance church history and political thought; Dante; and Machiavelli.
Prior to W&L, Peterson was a teaching assistant, lecturer and visiting assistant professor at Cornell University; lecturer at Stanford University; and assistant professor at University of Texas at Austin. Additionally, he worked as a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) research fellow and scholar in residence for the Newberry Library.
Throughout his career, Peterson received numerous grants, fellowships and prizes. Among his many accolades were the National Humanities Center’s Mellon Fellowship in 1987, and the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship in both 1998 and 2007. He was also a three-time recipient of W&L’s Lenfest Sabbatical Fellowship.
From 2016-2019, Peterson was a board member of the Friends of the Library, a group that supports the academic mission of W&L through activities which strengthen the University Library’s collections and services.
Peterson is survived by his brothers, John and Matt. No service information is available at this time.