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Dr. Bill Combs, Professor of History

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Prof. Combs at the 2008 WIU History Conference

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Current and former members of the History Dept. celebrate with Prof. Bill Combs. Photo courtesy of Dr. Chris Sutton, Geography.


Dr. Bill Combs Retires After 42 Years

Sep 1, 2008

Professor Bill Combs retired from Western's History Department in May, after forty-two years of teaching history at the University. His many years of contributions to the University were celebrated at the annual WIU College of Arts and Sciences Spring Awards Reception on Friday, May 2. Over Labor Day weekend, his current and former colleagues in the Department joined with his extended family to surprise him with a retirement celebration at the home he shares with Dr. Colleen Combs, Professor of Spanish in WIU's Foreign Languages and Literatures Department.

Dr. Bill Combs came to Western in 1966 and holds a Ph.D. in History from Purdue University. His book, The Voice of the SS: A History of the SS Journal "Das Schwarze Korps" is still the only major scholarly study in English on this subject. As a result, Prof. Combs has been in frequent demand for consultations with international scholars (including several from the Netherlands, Great Britain, and Norway) seeking more information about das Schwartze Korps. Dr. Combs is currently working on a new edition of The Voice of the SS that will include new material not available at the time of its original publication in 1986, including a 10-day interview Prof. Combs conducted with das Schwarze Korps editor, Gunter d'Alquen..

During Dr. Combs's 42 years of teaching history at Western, he has regularly offered his very popular course on "Germany under Hitler," as well as numerous graduate seminars on Weimar and Nazi-era Germany, general survey courses on German history, and Western Civilization surveys. In 1990, he won the History Department's Outstanding Teacher Award.

Prof. Combs, who taught high school in Galesburg in the early 1960s, has been a regular presenter to secondary school history teachers at the Department's annual WIU History Conference, and has made many other presentations on German history to high school teachers throughout the state over the years.

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