b. 1905, Oregon City, Ore.
d. Mar. 1993
Lewis Hanke, the Clarence and Helen Haring Professor of History from 1969 to 1975, was a scholar of Latin American history best known for his revisionist work on Bartolome de Las Casas, whom he situated at the center of the narrative of Spanish conquest of the Americas. A humanitarian, Las Casas had argued forcefully for the rights of Indians, and Hanke wrote persuasively that Las Casas was merely one member of a broader movement among Spanish colonialists to prevent the “destruction of the Indies.”
Born in Oregon City, Oregon, in 1905, Hanke received his B.S. and M.A. in history from Northwestern University. After earning his Ph.D from Harvard in 1936, the great depression barred his way to professorial appointment, allowing Hanke to work outside of academia as the director of the Hispanic Foundation until 1951. After teaching at the University of Texas and Columbia University, Hanke became a professor at the University of Massachusetts in 1969 until his retirement in 1975. Considered one of the foremost Latin Americanists of his generation, Hanke received numerous honors during his career. He became the first Latin Americanist to be elected President of the American Historical Association (1974), overseeing the re-writing of the AHA’s charter, and he received the Kalman Silvert Award from Latin American Studies Association in 1989.
Hanke died after a long illness in March 1993.