R.I.P. Ira Berlin.
Ira Berlin died this week. His Slaves Without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South (1974) helped me make sense of the status of many of my North Carolina ancestors, whose free status I had never suspected — or perhaps even heard of — when I began family research. When I veered toward a Ph.D. in American History after law school, Professor Berlin tried to convince me to come to the University of Maryland. I chose Columbia University instead, though it pained me to miss an opportunity to study under him.