The Hayden V. White Endowments

Hayden V. White, 1979To honor and perpetuate the spirit of Hayden V. White’s ground-
breaking intellectual contributions, the Humanities Division of
the University of California, Santa Cruz invites colleagues, students,
and friends of Hayden White to contribute to the Hayden V. White 
Endowment in Historical and Cultural Theory and/or the Hayden
V. White Distinguished Annual Lecture Fund

By these means we hope to continue Hayden White’s legacy of
adventurous, incisive, innovative work in history and theory.
The Hayden V. White Distinguished Annual Lecture Fund supports        yearly lectures relevant to historical and cultural theory, and ensures that Hayden’s legacy and intellectual spirit is honored and sustained.

The Hayden V. White Endowment in Historical and Cultural Theory      supports conferences, seminars, mentoring, and student support
related to historical and cultural theory, and will carry Hayden’s legacy
into the future by creating an open and inclusive forum for nurturing
intellectual exchange across the disciplines.

To learn more about how to contribute to  either fundgo HERE.


Hayden V. White bequeathed an immense intellectual legacy to the Humanities at the University of California. His leadership and vision helped to make the UCSC History of Consciousness Ph.D. program into one of the most distinguished interdisciplinary humanities graduate programs of the last six decades. Hayden White proved as well to be a faculty member with enormous influence in humanities departments and centers throughout the University of California system. His strong advocacy on behalf of the humanities, his bold institutional creativity and commitment to interdisciplinary work helped foster the development of the School of Criticism and Theory (originally housed at UC Irvine and now at Cornell University), the Western Humanities Alliance, the UC Humanities Initiative (now The Humanities Network), and the system-wide University of California Humanities Research Institute (UCHRI). UCHRI serves all ten campuses and was established under President David Gardner in 1986. In 2000, although retired, White co-chaired the UC Humanities Commission convened by President Jack Peltason to enhance system-wide infrastructure for Humanities research. Hayden White held the very highest title at the University of California, "University Professor", an exceedingly rare professorial category that confers the highest intellectual recognition on a faculty member as well as affiliation with all ten campuses. 

To be sure, Hayden White’s contributions to intellectual life preceded and went far beyond UC. Before coming to UCSC, White served for five years as the Director of the Center for the Humanities at Wesleyan University. After retiring from UCSC and then teaching briefly as a Visiting Professor in the Department of Rhetoric at UC Berkeley, he taught at Stanford University for ten years as the Bonsall Professor of Comparative Literature where his teaching and collegiality were enormously valued. He sponsored a stunningly diverse set of student projects, Ph.D. theses, and supported faculty development in fields across the humanities and social sciences.

White travelled widely, serving as a Visiting Professor at many universities throughout Eastern and Western Europe, Latin America, China and Japan.  He was awarded numerous honorary degrees [Doctor of Humane Letters (Honoris Causa)] by universities including the University of Michigan, Wesleyan University, North Carolina State University, the Central European University of Budapest, Gdansk University in Poland, and the Freie Universität of Berlin. In recognition of his stellar scholarship, White was elected as a Fellow of the American Philosophical Society and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Hayden White’s intellectual work changed the disciplines of history and literature, and exercised a lasting influence on interdisciplinary and theoretical work across the human sciences.   His bold thesis in Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth- Century Europe (1973) demonstrated that history relied on narrative structures to make sense of the past. The book challenged historians to consider the importance of language and literary writing to the historical truths they sought to establish. Further, he held that philosophical positions were already present in the forms of representation which historians selected. Metahistory has been translated into more than ten languages and has been in print continuously since 1973.

In his last book, The Practical Past (2014), Hayden White insisted
that history is a set of practical presuppositions informed by
rhetorical language that prove indispensable to everyday ethical
orientations.  He maintained that history did not belong only to
the historians, but that it structured the everyday practical
imagination by which we all orient our conduct in contemporary
life. White’s theories of historical narrative and what he called
“emplotment” were eagerly taken up by historians, artists, and
cultural critics, especially in the post-1989 period, and have since
changed the way that humanists and social scientists think about
history, story, fiction, fact, events, and testimonials.

Hayden White also figured prominently in a landmark California
Supreme Court case regarding covert intelligence gathering on
college campuses by police officers [White vs. Davis]. During 1972,
while a professor of history at UCLA and acting as sole plaintiff,
White sued the L.A. Chief of Police, alleging the illegal expenditure
of public funds in connection with covert intelligence gathering by
police who were registering as students at UCLA. The Supreme
Court found for White in a unanimous decision. This case set the
standard that determines the limits of legal police surveillance of
political activity in California educational institutions.