In Memoriam: Professor of Italian History Emiliana Noether

Headshot of Emiliana Pasca Noether, a faculty member of the Department of History from 1968 until her retirement in 1987.
Emiliana Pasca Noether, a faculty member of the Department of History from 1968 until her retirement in 1987, died on March 24, 2018 at the age of 101. (Photo courtesy of Monica Noether)

Emiliana Pasca Noether, a faculty member of the Department of History from 1968 until her retirement in 1987, died on March 24, 2018, at the age of 101.

Emiliana, or Liliana to family, was a professor of Italian history whose career paved a path for the recognition and promotion of future generations of female scholars. After receiving her Ph.D. in history from Columbia University in 1948, Noether taught Italian history at New York University, Rutgers University, Regis College, Simmons College, and the University of Connecticut, where the Emiliana Pasca Noether Chair in Modern Italian History was established in her honor in 1987.  Following her retirement, she continued to share her learning by teaching in various elder education programs.

Noether was appointed twice as a Senior Fulbright Research Scholar in 1964-65 and in 1982 to further her scholarship in Italian historical studies. She was among the first group of fellows at Radcliffe College’s Bunting Institute when it was founded in 1961 to promote women scholars—an experience that she described as “a second chance…after having been relegated to the professional dustbin” for taking time off to be a parent. She went on to serve as president of the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians and the New England Historical Association, and to chair the American Historical Association’s Committees on Italian-American Historical Relations and Women Historians. She authored nearly 100 professional articles and books on Italian history and cultural and intellectual ties between Italy and the English-speaking world and mentored many graduate students—both women and men—over her long career.

Noether was born in Naples, Italy, and emigrated to the United States as a young child. She grew up in New York City in a family of Italian musicians and teachers. In 1942, she married Gottfried (Friedel) E. Noether (1915-1991), a statistician and refugee from Nazi Germany, with whom she shared a passion for music, the arts, and worldwide travel.

“I remember Professor Noether as a deeply committed teacher and scholar. A major contributor to the excellence of the history department, she was an active leader on University committees,” said Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus Richard Brown. “Her Columbia University Press study, Seeds of Italian Nationalism, 1700-1818, became the standard work.”