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Professor, Department of History

Professor Emerita



Catherine Caraher was born in Detroit in November 1931. She did her undergraduate work at the University of Detroit and received her Ph.B. in English in 1953. In 1955, she received her M.A., also in English, from the University of Michigan. In 1962, she took a second Masters degree, in Education and History, from the University of Detroit. And in 1967, she was awarded a doctorate in American Culture from the University of Michigan. Her dissertation was entitled, “Thorstein Veblin and the American Novel,” and traced social and economic criticism of Veblin in the works of such authors as Robert Herrick, Sinclair Lewis, and John Dos Passos.

From 1953 to 1965, Ms. Caraher taught English at Cody High School in Detroit. She became a part-time instructor of History at the University of Detroit in 1964, and was hired full-time the following year. After just two years on staff, Ms. Caraher was made an assistant professor, and in 1972 she was tenured and promoted to associate professor. 

From her earliest days as an instructor, Ms. Caraher was considered an exceptionally talented lecturer who went to great lengths in the preparation of her classes. And although she developed a reputation for being a demanding teacher, she was equally known for the time and effort she dedicated to counseling her students. Her classes became increasingly popular, especially among upper classmen and graduate students.

Dr. Caraher helped broaden the scope of the History Department by introducing such cross-disciplinary classes as Historical Literature and The Religious Factor in American History. She also worked tirelessly to promote excellence in the study of history by serving as moderator of the University of Detroit Historical Society and Phi Alpha Theta, the history honors fraternity. In addition, with her background in secondary education, Dr. Caraher functioned as the History Department’s liaison with teacher education – a particularly useful role with the high percentage of students pursuing teaching certification.

While she took on many duties both in and out of the classroom, Dr. Caraher, nevertheless, found time to dedicate to independent historical research, working in the late ‘60s and through the ‘70s on a biography of sociologist and historian, William Graham Sumner, and in the ‘80s and early ‘90s on a biography of Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, the labor leader and community organizer.

In 1982 Dr. Caraher became chairperson of the History Department, and in 1984 took on the additional duties of Associate Dean of the Liberal Arts College.

Dr. Caraher was inducted into the University of Michigan chapter of the Phi Kappa Phi national honor society in 1955, and inducted into Alpha Sigma Nu, the national Jesuit honor society, in 1990.

Dr. Caraher was a member of the American Historical Association, the Organization of American Historians, the Catholic Historical Association, and the American Studies Association.

Dr. Caraher retired on May 15, 1994 and was granted Professor Emerita status on November 1, 1994 by Maureen A. Fay, O.P., Ph.D., President, University of Detroit Mercy.  Dr. Caraher entered eternal life on Monday, July 9, 2012.

University of Detroit Mercy

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