Dorothy Grace Gillis Atkinson

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Dorothy Grace Gillis Atkinson, 86, died January 23, 2016, in Palo Alto, California. Born in Malden, Massachusetts on August 5, 1929, of Scotch-Italian ancestry, she was the oldest of six children and the only girl. Her mother, Grace Margaret Campagna, was a homemaker. Her father, George Edward Gillis, was a labor-union leader.

The first in her family to attend college, Dorothy earned a bachelor's degree from Barnard College (1951), a master's degree from the University of California at Berkeley (1953), and a Ph.D. from Stanford University (1971).

Dr. Dorothy Atkinson was an assistant professor of history at Stanford University (1973–1982) and a visiting associate professor of history at the University of California at Berkeley (1984–1985). From 1983 to 1986 she directed the Stanford Summer Institute for Soviet and East European Studies. She served as executive director of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies (1981–1995) and continued as the AAASS representative on the International Council for Central and East European Studies for years after her 1995 retirement.

Dr. Atkinson was published widely in Russian history. Her work includes The End of the Russian Land Commune, 1905–1930 (1983), and a co-edited work, Women in Russia (1977). Critic Roberta Manning, arguing that The End of the Russian Land Commune was the first comprehensive account of the commune in the twentieth century, called it "an outstanding work of scholarship that should be read by all serious students of twentieth-century Russia and of agrarian development in general."

Dr. Atkinson also wrote approximately fifty articles, book chapters, and reviews. She contributed to a book by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. She received many awards, including fellowships from the U.S. Fulbright-Hays Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Hoover Institution, and the Mellon Foundation. She also received a Faculty Exchange with the USSR Ministry of Higher Education, a Cory Scholarship Award, and a Pulitzer Scholarship.

Her work included service to the International Council for Central and East European Studies, the American Historical Association, the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Council for Area Studies Associations, and the U.S. Department of State Advisory Committee on Russian, Eurasian, and East European Studies.

Dr. Atkinson later lectured in the Baltic region, throughout Turkey, and on Danube cruises for Stanford University's Suitcase Seminars, specializing in topics on Eastern Europe.

Dorothy Atkinson was married to Sterling K. Atkinson from 1950 to 1982. She leaves a daughter, Kim Leslie Atkinson Fudenberg, a son, Paul David Atkinson, and four wonderful grandchildren, Amy, Keri, Ian, and Ali. She is survived by two brothers, Robert Gillis and William Gillis.

Dorothy loved the ballet, symphony, opera, and museums. She camped with her family in state and national parks and extolled the beauty of nature. Her greatest passion was to travel and learn about people. She took her children and grandchildren on many voyages. Dorothy was a deeply caring, loving mother and grandmother. Her energy and curiosity about the world are with us.

Donations in memory of Dorothy may be made to the national parks.
Published on from Feb. 4 to Feb. 7, 2016
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