Remembering Prof. Halstead
Charles R. Halstead, a veteran professor of history noted for his scholarship on Iberian international relations during World War II, died October 9, 2012, at his Chestertown home. He was 87.
Throughout his life, Dr. Halstead achieved expertise in several areas of history, including medieval history, Roman Britain and the Russo-German Theatre of World War II. His personal library, which included a very specialized collection on New England and Maritime Canadian whales and whaling dating back 300 years, was of world-class caliber and numbered several thousand volumes.
Dr. Halstead retired from Washington College in 1988 after 25 years of teaching undergraduates about ancient and medieval history, the Renaissance and Reformation, modern Europe, and the history of the British Isles. After retirement, Dr. Halstead taught continuing education classes in the WC-ALL program and at Chesapeake College.
He was, first and foremost, a teacher. A colleague recounted an instance of seeing Dr. Halstead in the faculty lounge frantically preparing for an upcoming lecture. When questioned about why he was putting such effort into a lecture he had given dozens of times, Dr. Halstead told the new professor that each year he updated his lectures with recent innovative views, reexamination of original sources, and new research. He maintained notes from year to year of student responses to the class material in an effort to teach more effectively.
“While always the consummate gentleman in the classroom, Charlie did have an office-hours bawdy side that harkened to his years as a wartime sailor,” recalls Bill Jones ’88. “Those of us privileged to have Charlie as an adviser often saw an entirely different side of his three-piece-suit demeanor.”
Dr. Halstead traveled extensively throughout Europe. His articles about Spanish and Portuguese diplomacy during World War II focused on the diplomatic personnel serving in Madrid. Dr. Halstead was especially proud of his corpus of academic publications produced by original and innovative research of the diplomatic relations between Spain and Portugal during Spanish Civil War and World War II. That work was internationally regarded as groundbreaking.
In retirement, Dr. Halstead remained active in the community: judging oratorical and essay contests, addressing community groups on historical and international topics, and serving the boards of several civic organizations, including the Kent County Historical Society and the Kent Association of Riding Therapy (KART). He was a founding member of the Friends of the Miller Library at Washington College. He was also an enthusiastic fisherman and sailor, and the tallest member of the Hartly, Dem Ballroom Dancing Club.
Dr. Halstead earned his undergraduate degree from Siena College in New York and pursued graduate studies at the University of Virginia, receiving a master’s degree in international relations from the Woodrow Wilson School of Foreign Affairs, and a doctor of philosophy degree in European History from the Corcoran School of History.