College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Thomas K. McCraw: Pulitizer Prize Winning Alumnus

mcgraw

Tom and Susan McCraw

“It all goes back to freshman English.”

The marriage, the writing, and the book all began in that class when Thomas K. McCraw took a seat next to the woman who would one day become his wife.

Susan Morehead McCraw, wife of the late Pulitzer Prize winning historian, was a Jackson native pursuing majors in French and history when they met. Born in Corinth and graduating from high school in Florence, Ala., Tom had enrolled as a pre-med major at UM, on a Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps scholarship.

She gives that class credit for cultivating her husband’s love of writing. “The English course required a lot of writing, mostly expository. Tom Truss was the instructor, and it was a terrific foundation for any kind of writing. When I look back on my preparation for Harvard Law School, I am always thankful for that class.”

Such challenging professors encouraged Tom to seek higher education. “During his time at Ole Miss Tom read a lot of American history and became convinced he wanted to teach at the college level,” she said. After four years service as an officer in the U.S. Navy, he pursued graduate studies in history at University of Wisconsin and established his teaching career as a professor of history at the University of Texas and Harvard Business School.

The eminent author, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1985 for his book Prophets of Regulation: Charles Francis Adams, Louis D. Brandeis, James M. Landis, and Alfred E. Kahn, is credited with playing an important role in making business history more influential and understandable in the broader fields of history and management. “Mr. McCraw explains sophisticated economic theory in accessible terms,” said The New York Times Book Review about the Isidor Straus Professor of Business History at Harvard. The use of biography—personal lives, motivations—to explore economic issues was key to his scholarship’s appeal beyond the academic world.

Reflecting on their time at UM, Susan laughed that her husband was “astounded at how everyone seemed to be acquainted or at least feel acquainted.” UM becomes a family, and as she said, “He turned out pretty well, even though he was from out of state.”