Obituary: Howard L. Adelson

by Joseph Ciccone


Howard L. Adelson

Howard Adelson, chronicler and Fellow of the ANS, died on December 5, 2003. He was 78 years old. Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1925, Dr. Adelson received his B.A. from New York University before serving in the Army during World War II. After the war, he earned a M.A. degree from Columbia University and then began studying at Princeton. However, his efforts were once again interrupted when he was called to serve in the Korean War.

After that war, he earned his second Masters degree and Ph.D. at Princeton University. Subsequently, he was appointed Professor of Medieval History at the City College of New York, where he also led the Ph.D. program in medieval history.

Dr. Adelson became a member of the ANS in November 1951. He initially worked in the editorial department, where he worked first as Assistant Editor from 1953 to 1956 and Associate Editor from 1956 to 1963. During this period, he also served as a lecturer for the Society’s Graduate Summer Seminar, a role that expanded in 1963 when he was named Director of Studies for the ANS. For the next three years, he would coordinate programming for the Summer Seminar.

Dr. Adelson made one of his most significant contributions to the ANS in 1958, when he wrote the Society’s centennial history, The American Numismatic Society, 1858-1958. This work is still the leading source for information on the history of the Society.

In 1996, Adelson was named an ANS Fellow and in 2001 a Life Fellow. In addition to his numismatic pursuits, Dr. Adelson also played an active role in Jewish affairs. He served as the National President of the United Zionist Revisionists of America, President of the Tel Hai Fund, a Director of the Jewish National Fund, a Director of the United Israel Appeal, and as a member of several World Zionist Congresses, and a delegate to the World Jewish Assemblies. He was also a participant in several of the International Conferences on Soviet Jewry beginning with the first held in Bruxelles. In addition, he was also a member of the International Board of Governors of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, a member of the Board of Overseers of the Rothberg School for International Studies of the Hebrew University, and a member of the Associate Board of Directors of the Brookdale Hospital Medical Center and Co-Chairman of the American Academics for Israel’s Future. He is also a regular columnist for The Jewish Press, commenting upon Jewish affairs, Israel, and international relations.

Professor Adelson was honored on a number of occasions. In addition to his ANS Fellowship, Dr. Adelson was a Fellow (honoris causa) of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a recipient of the Jabotinsky Centennial Medal from Prime Minister Begin, a recipient of the Brookdale Medal from the Brookdale Hospital Medical Center, and a National Fellow of the Explorers Club. He also received the Humanitarian Award by the Kings County Council of the Jewish War Veterans and Medal of Freedom by the Barzel Society of the National Conference of Shomrim Societies Dr. Adelson is survived by his son, Mark, and daughter-in-law, Margie. He also leaves behind his daughter Sarah, son-in-law Curtis, and grandson Jonathan.