Woodrow Wilson Borah, born into a family of Jewish merchants in the back country of Mississippi in 1912, became, during a long career at Berkeley, one of the world’s foremost scholars of colonial Mexico. Borah began his scholarly life when only a mere handful of people, primarily at Harvard and Berkeley, were devoted to the study of Latin American history. He contributed mightily to its rapid development during the years following World War II, keeping abreast of the various changes in academic fashion. He died in December 1999.

Woodrow Borah was best known for his innovative research on the historical demography of colonial Mexico. In the early 1950s he formed an unusual academic friendship with Sherburne Cook, a Berkeley colleague in physiology. Together, they wrote 22 articles and books. This work, assiduously drawn from colonial records, established the process and full dimensions of...

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