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Goldman, Merle (1931–) - Chinese History

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Merle Goldman was born on March 12, 1931. She attended Sarah Lawrence College and then Harvard University, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1953, a master’s degree in 1957, and a Ph.D. in 1964. She was influenced both by her undergraduate advisor at Sarah Lawrence and by her mentor at Harvard. John Fairbank, her mentor, never lost interest in her work, even though Goldman had four children while in graduate school, and he encouraged her to follow her particular area of interest even though it differed from his own.

Goldman’s first academic appointment was at Wellesley College, where she was instructor in Far Eastern history from 1963 to 1964. She was a lecturer for Radcliffe Seminars from 1968 to 1970, and in 1972 she took an appointment as professor at Boston University.

The two most recent of Goldman’s three single-authored books were selected as Notable Books by the New York Times . The most recent, Sowing the Seeds of Democracy in China: Political Reform in the Deng Xiaoping Decade , also won Best Book on Government Award from the American Association of Publishers, Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division. Goldman is also editor or co-editor of five additional books and the author of over forty scholarly articles and numerous newspaper and magazine articles.

Goldman has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Radcliffe Graduate Medal for Distinguished Achievement. She served as a fellow at the Bunting Institute and for the Guggenheim Foundation, and she received grants from the Social Science Research Council, the State Department, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Wang Institute. In addition to her work at Boston University, Goldman has been a research associate of the Fairbank Center for East Asian Research at Harvard University.

Goldman’s professional service includes committee memberships for the American Historical Association, the Association of Asian Studies, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Social Science Research Council. She served as vice president and president of the New England Council of the Association of Asian Studies. Goldman is currently a board member of Asia Watch, a division of Human Rights Watch, a Phi Beta Kappa Lecturer, and the chairperson of the New England China Seminar.

Aside from her many academic accomplishments, Goldman takes pride in the work she has done on behalf of human rights. Her work on China’s intellectuals in the Chinese Communist Party led her to activism on their behalf when a number of them were persecuted. Goldman served on the Presidential Commission on Radio Free Asia and as a member of the United States delegation to the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.

Merle Goldman is married to Marshall Goldman. They have four children and nine grandchildren. She credits her family for their continuous support of her work. “Without their support,” she states, “I could not have become an historian.”

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