Researcher Abraham P. Nasatir Dies at 85


Memorial services will be held Monday for Abraham P. Nasatir, a leading researcher and professor emeritus at San Diego State University, who died Friday at Mercy Hospital of complications from pneumonia. He was 85.

Mr. Nasatir was considered a top U.S. historical researcher and an expert on California and Mississippi Valley history.

He was born in Santa Ana, the son of Russian immigrants. He earned a doctorate in history from the University of California, Berkeley, when only 19 years old.

Mr. Nasatir taught Latin American history at the University of Iowa for a year before moving to San Diego State College in 1927, where he taught for 50 years. SDSU honored him in 1986 by renaming a wing of the social sciences department after him.


Mr. Nasatir was the recipient of four Fulbright fellowships, and conducted research in France, Spain and Chile. In 1985, nearly 500,000 historical documents and manuscripts he had collected since 1924 were destroyed in his home by the Normal Heights fire. SDSU’s history department established a relief fund that raised about $4,000, mostly from colleagues and former students, for restoration efforts.

Mr. Nasatir had also written 19 volumes, more than 300,000 pages of documents, monographic studies and translated documents that are archived in the United States, Spain, France, England and Chile.

He received several honors and distinctions throughout his career, including the Distinguished Professor of the California State College System award and the Henry R. Wagner Medal of Honor. He also served as president of the international chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, an international history honor society.

Mr. Nasatir was a devoted Orthodox Jew and gave much of his time to lecturing and teaching in the Jewish community.

He is survived by his wife, Ida; a sister, Frances Greenleigh of New York; a brother, George Nasatir of Los Angeles, and many nieces and nephews.

Services will be held Monday morning at Congregation Beth Jacob, 4855 College Ave.

The family asks that any remembrances be sent to Jewish charities or to the Lipinsky Institute of Judaic Studies.