Pipkin Family Association

Dee Brown

Historian Dee Brown dead at 94

Dee Brown, an Arkansas native, commonly referred to as the "foremost historian on the American West" died early Thursday morning.

He was 94 years old.

He wrote 29 books, including the 1971 international best-seller Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, a historical account of the doctrine of Manifest Destiny from the American Indian perspective.

Although his literary career loomed large, friends remember a shy, quiet man, with a quick wit and dry sense of humor who shunned the limelight.

"He never did walk out on the stage," said Jerry Russell, a local political consultant and longtime friend of Brown's. "He was just not in anyway a showoff. He was very unpretentious. He worked at being unpretentious."

Charlie West met Brown shortly after the author returned to Little Rock from Illinois in 1972, where Brown had worked as a librarian.

"It's such a loss," West said. "I don't know who will replace him as a writer."

Russell and West, the retired chief executive of the National Pharmacists Association, periodically had lunch with Brown at Trios restaurant until a few months ago.

"[The restaurant's owner] would come over and stand around and talk to him, and then we would tease him about all the women, that when you get to be in your 90s you're a magnet for babes," Russell said. "He would just kind of grin and duck his head."

Brown was a hospice patient suffering from heart disease, according to the Pulaski County coroner. He died around 4 a.m.

Brown was born in Bienville Parish, La., in 1908. When he was five years old, his family moved back to Arkansas, their home state.

He spent his grade-school and junior-high years in Ouachita County. Then the family moved to Little Rock.

Brown graduated from what is now Little Rock Central High School.

He had studied printing in high school and got a job at the Harrison Times, printing Christmas cards and selling ads. Later, he became a reporter.

Brown attended Arkansas State Teachers College at Conway, which is now the University of Central Arkansas, where he graduated in 1927.

Brown worked as librarian at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Beltsville Research Center in Maryland, and the University of Illinois. He retired in 1972.

In the years that followed, his writing career thrived.

Brown wrote 29 books. At the time of his death, he was considered a leading historian on American Indians, westward expansion and the railroad.

In September 2000, the Central Arkansas Library System's board of trustees voted to name its new library in southwest Little Rock after Brown.

The library opened in March of this year on Base Line Road.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee - by far Brown's best known work - sold more than 1 million copies in the United States. It remains essential reading for students of the Western frontier and American Indians.

The book has been translated into 20 languages.

This story was published Friday, December 13, 2002

[Dee BROWN is that man's pen name. His real name is Dorris Alexander BROWN, s/o Daniel Alexander BROWN & Luda "CRINER. Daniel was a son of Alexander P. BROWN & Mary Angeline "PIPKIN", d/o Rev. Lewis PIPKIN & Pheraby "BEASLEY]

Return to Homepage