Obituary: Jack Tager, Professor Emeritus of History

Jack Tager
Jack Tager

Jack Tager, 80, of Amherst, professor emeritus of U.S. history, died Oct. 14.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, on Oct. 18, 1936, he attended Thomas Jefferson High School and Brooklyn College, graduating in 1958. He received his master’s degree from the University of California-Berkeley in 1959 and his Ph.D. from the University of Rochester in 1965. He served in the Army in 1959 and from 1961 to 1962.

In 1967, he joined UMass Amherst and began his love affair with the state and its history. After his first book on the Progressive Era, the five subsequent books he authored or edited all delved into the history of Massachusetts, including work on the Boston riots, the Gilded Age, and a concise history of the state, as well as books for the general public such as the “Historical Atlas of Massachusetts” and “Massachusetts at a Glance.” Supported by a special $100,000 state appropriation, the Historical Atlas was distributed to 1,767 public school libraries across the state.

He taught history for 37 years and directed the honors program at UMass Amherst from 1978-1982. He retired in 2002, but continued as part-time lecturer to 2007.

He was awarded the Bay State Legacy Award for distinguished contributions to Massachusetts history in 2005 by the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities and UMass Amherst.

He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Patricia; his children, David Tager and his wife, Linda Reeder, and Miriam Tager and her wife, Robin Griffith; three stepchildren whom he raised, David Cantor, Elisabeth Cantor, and Daniel Cantor and his wife, Annie Asebrook; and his brothers, Bernie and Aron Tager.

Memorial donations are welcome to Doctors Without Borders.