Sidney Fine (historian)

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Sidney Fine (October 11, 1920 – March 31, 2009) was a professor of history at the University of Michigan. He authored many books on Frank Murphy, who served successively as Mayor of Detroit, Governor of Michigan, United States Attorney General, and Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. He was a Guggenheim Fellow and twice the winner of the University of Michigan Press Award. He received the University of Michigan's Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award in 1969. He died on March 31, 2009 at the age of 88.[1]


Sidney Fine was born in Cleveland, Ohio on October 11, 1920.[2] He was awarded his B.A. from Western Reserve University in 1942, served in the Navy, serving as a Japanese Language Officer from 1942-1946, and earned both an M.A. (1944) and Ph.D. (1948) in history from the University of Michigan. Dr. Fine was a specialist in modern American history, with interest in the history of the labor movement, the New Deal, and the history of Michigan and its political environment. He wrote and edited over fifteen books and many articles.

Sidney Fine’s first appointment at the University of Michigan was as a teaching assistant in 1946. He accepted a position as a UM instructor in 1948 and was appointed as an assistant professor, an associate professor, then a full professor in 1959 in the History Department. Dr. Fine acted as advisor to masters and doctoral students, served on many doctoral committees, and was chairman of the department from 1969-1971. He was named the Richard Hudson Research Professor of History, the Andrew Dickson White Distinguished Professor of History, the Henry Russel Lecturer, and was named the “Professor of the Year” for the state of Michigan in 1986.[3] He is the only member of the UM faculty to have ever been designated as the Henry Russel Lecturer, as well as being honored by the undergraduates with the Golden Apple Award for outstanding university teaching (in 1993).[4]

During the course of his career, he taught over 26,000 students. His continued presence was a significant factor in getting the Michigan legislature to repeal mandatory retirement at age 70 for university professors.[1][5] He retired from UM in the spring of 2001.[6][7]

Fine was very active in the University of Michigan community, serving on numerous committees in the College of Literature, Science & the Arts (LSA) and the general university community. He was the adviser for student associations such as Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi, and he served on the executive and advisory committees of the UM libraries, including the Bentley Historical Library, the Gerald R. Ford Library, and the Friends of University Library. Dr. Fine was very involved in library and archive issues nationally, serving on the Archives Advisory Council and the Public Documents Commission. He also consulted on several UM-related and private projects such as the Ford Corporate History Project, the UAW Oral History Project, and television series on labor history. Dr. Fine was a member of many professional societies and served on the editorial board of several history journals.

Partial bibliography[edit]

By Fine[edit]

  • Laissez Faire and the General-Welfare State a Study, (Ann Arbor Paperbacks, The University of Michigan Press, 1956) ISBN 0-472-06086-4
  • "Frank Murphy in World War I". The Michigan Historical Collections and Bentley Library Bulletin, Number 17 (Ann Arbor: Michigan Historical Collections, 1968) Photos, 44 pp.
  • Sit-down: The General Motors Strike of 1936-1937. (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1969). ISBN 978-0-472-32948-9; ISBN 0-472-32948-0; ISBN 0-395-11778-X.
  • Frank Murphy: The Detroit Years. (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1975) 618 pages. ISBN 0-472-32949-9.
  • Frank Murphy: The New Deal Years. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979) ISBN 0-226-24934-4; ISBN 978-0-226-24934-6; ISBN 0-226-65871-6.
  • Frank Murphy. Volume 3, The Washington Years (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1984) ISBN 0-472-10046-7.
  • Violence in the Model City: The Cavanagh Administration, Race Relations, and the Detroit Riot of 1967 (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1989).

About Fine[edit]

"Sidney Fine 1931-2009." University of Michigan, Department of History, Newsletter, 2009.


  1. ^ a b Obituaries, April 3, 2009,[dead link] Detroit Free Press.
  2. ^ Wadhwa, Diya (April 7, 2009). "Legendary professor Sidney Fine passes away at the age of 88". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved July 3, 2018.
  3. ^ U.S. Professors of the Year Awards, retrieved December 11, 2018
  4. ^ "Past Recipients - Golden Apple Award". Golden Apple Award (WordPress). March 19, 2018. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  5. ^ "Faculty Profile - Sidney Fine", Faculty History Project, retrieved December 11, 2018
  6. ^ Schey, Jamie (April 4, 2001). "University community bids farewell to long-time professor". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  7. ^ Harding, Lesley (May 7, 2001). "After 53 years of teaching at U-M, historian Sidney Fine says goodbye". The Michigan Daily. Retrieved December 11, 2018.