Back to top

Professor Howard Weinroth (1929 - 1976)

issue number: : 
3

The Society deeply regrets to announce the sudden death of Howard Weinroth, an early member, who was in Manchester on a year's sabbatical leave from McGill University, Montreal, to work on the history of the Lancashire Cotton Workers. The following appreciation of his work has been contributed by John Smethurst.
We only knew Howard for a very short part of his forty six years, but during that time he became an integral part of our small but dedicated band of labour historians working on different aspects of Lancashire and North-West history.

Howard's great contribution to the group was his ability to put into clear, understandable terms, the problems which we were trying to solve. Above all, he was most generous to those of us who attempt to put pen to paper - his time was, always at our disposal. When he returned to Lancashire for his sabbatical leave after making two earlier visits, he brought his family with him and prepared to develop the work which he had begun the two previous summers. He immediately proceeded to renew his friendships with those of us who had grown to appreciate his enthusiasm and thirst for knowledge about our industrial Lancashire. Janet, his wife, shared his enthusiasm and his daily work.

Howard and Janet did not undertake arid research into the dry archives of textile workers. They associated with the community and identified themselves with the aspirations and struggles of the people of Lancashire, interpreting history in the light of their knowledge of those who played a part in shaping it. Howard always said that although he had travelled widely and lived in the United States and Israel as well as Canada, he always felt at home in Lancashire. He, once remarked that in Lancashire he felt he had roots and was able to identify with the working people. Had he lived, he would have liked to settle in the North West working with us on the rich history of the textile workers and offering his knowledge and scholarship to our group. The root of Howard's success in his work with the miners and the Nelson weavers was his compassionate interest in their lives.

He was willing to give endless hours interviewing working people to ensure that his understanding of their problems was sufficient for him to present their point of view. But in addition, he presented his research in an erudite way acceptable to the academic historians. The most important work which he was undertaking was a comparative study of Darwen and Nelson where the problems of the 19th and early 20th centuries indicated thevery different development of the towns. He had reached the point in his research where he had begun to draw his conclusions together and was able to sec, the way in which further work should proceed. He had reached a stage where he felt able to report on his research in lectures as far apart as Cambridge, Belfast and the History Workshop in Manchester.

In spite of the tremendous pace in which he set himself, he was able to offer advice to others. "Cool it man: Look after yourself, Above all you have to complete it." was the advice he gave to me. For himself, he worked with the intensity of a man who obviously felt that time was not on his side. We who knew and appreciated Howard's compassionate understanding of our problems and felt that knowing him added a dimension to our life will do our best to help Janet complete the work that he began, That will be the finest tribute we can pay to Howard Weinroth, historian, but above all, friend.