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Donald Frederick Lach (pronounced "lock") (1917–26 October 2000) was an American historian. He was a noted authority on Asian influence in the European civilization during the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries.


Early life and educationEdit

Lach was born in 1917 in Pittsburgh to German immigrant parents. After completing elementary education in public schools, he received a B.A. degree from West Virginia University in 1937, and a Ph.D. from University of Chicago in 1941.[citation needed]


Lach began his teaching career at Elmira College (1941-1948), then returned to a post at the University of Chicago. He received a Fulbright Scholarship to study in France (1949—1950) and a Social Science Research grant to continue his European research (1952—1953). He co–authored two books in the early 1950s: "Modern Far Eastern International Relations" (with University of Chicago professor Harley Farnsworth MacNair (1950); and "Europe and the Modern World" (published in two volumes, 1951 & 1954; with University of Chicago professor Louis Gottschalk). In 1957, Lach published a translation, with commentary, of the preface to Leibniz' "Novissima Sinica".

Lach taught in Taiwan (1955—1956) at the National Chegchih University and National Taiwan University. In 1967—1968 he taught in India, at the University of Delhi. In 1965, he co–edited (with Carol Flaumenhaft) "Asia on the Eve of Europe's Expansion". Also in 1965 he issued the first volume of his magnum opus, "Asia in the Making of Europe – A Century of Discovery".

In 1969, Lach was named Bernadotte E. Schmitt Professor in History at the University of Chicago. The following year, the first book of the second volume of "Asia in the making of Europe" was published. Books two and three, subtitled "A Century of Advance", followed in 1977.

Lach was the principal researcher and author of the three volumes with the joint title Asia in the Making of Europe, about European interchanges with Asia in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. A 1994 article in Commentary described the series as a masterwork of scholarship. Lach was the sole author of the first volume ("The Century of Discovery"), and of the second volume which was issued in three sections ("A Century of Wonder", 1970, 1977, 1977). The third volume was also issued in three sections ("A Century of Advance"); it was co–written with a colleague, Edwin J. Van Kley.

A secondary interest of Lach's was the political situation in East Asia in the mid-20th century. In 1975, Lach and Edmund S. Wehrle's "International politics in East Asia since World War II" was released.

Lach was elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1984.[1] He retired from teaching in 1988, but continued researching and writing Volume 3 of "Asia in the Making of Europe",

Personal lifeEdit

In 1939, Lach married Alma Elizabeth Satoris, who became a chef and cookbook author. They had a daughter, born in 1943.[2] After his retirement the family continued living in Chicago, where he died in a Chicago hospital in 2000.[3] In 2001 his colleagues, friends, former students, and family established The Donald F. Lach Memorial Book Fund at the University of Chicago Library.[2]


  1. ^ Members of the American Academy. Listed by election year, 1950-1999
  2. ^ a b [1] Guide to the Donald F. Lach Papers, 1925—1994
  3. ^ [2] Donald F. Lach, 83, Historian and Author, New York Times, 6 November 2000