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Charlton Tebeau, writer of Florida history, dies

Mr. Tebeau was instrumental in building the reputation of the University of Miami.

Charlton W. Tebeau, author of numerous books and articles on Florida history and former chairman of the History Department at the University of Miami, died Wednesday after a long illness. He was 95.

Mr. Tebeau, a Georgia native, retired to Springfield in 1976 after serving the university for 37 years, 23 of them as history department chairman.

His book, A History of Florida, was widely regarded as the definitive history of the state from its first publication in 1971 until 1995, when a group of scholars produced The New History of Florida. A major update of Mr. Tebeau's classic was published last month by the University of Miami Press.

Mr. Tebeau's book is "among the greatest achievements in the field of Florida historiography," said Michael Gannon, professor emeritus of history at the University of Florida and editor of The New History of Florida.

UM President Edward T. Foote II described Mr. Tebeau as a giant in UM's history who helped a very young institution build its own tradition of excellence.

Mr. Tebeau earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, then took a master's and a doctoral degree at the State University of Iowa. UM was only 13 years old when he joined the faculty in 1939.

"He was enormously important to the university during a critical period of growth," Foote said. "He was a genuinely respected scholar . . . who symbolized this young institution a generation ago."

Among Mr. Tebeau's other books were histories of the university and of Temple Israel. He was director and past president of the Historical Association of Southern Florida.

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