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Obituary of Professor Judy Barrett Litoff


Renowned historian, prolific author, one of Bryant’s longest-serving faculty members and a loving mother and grandmother, died suddenly at Miriam Hospital on July 3 following surgery minor medical. Professor Judy Barrett Litoff was 77 years old.

Born in Fairburn, Georgia in 1944 to John “Pip” Barrett and Dorothy “Dot” Wooddall Barrett, Judy received a BA and MA from Emory University and, in 1975, a Ph.D. in history from the University of Maine.

Judy was a professor at Bryant University for nearly 50 years, from 1975 until her retirement last year. As well as being a sought-after professor of women’s history, she has written 14 books on midwifery and World War II, with a focus on women’s correspondence and their contribution to the war effort. .

In a major historical undertaking, Judy has assembled an archive of 30,000 letters written by American women during World War II. These letters—previously thought lost or destroyed—gave insight into the women’s impact on the war effort and their growing sense of belonging to the world.

The archives began with a single comprehensive set of letters, those from her own aunt and uncle, which led to her first book on war letters, “Miss You: The World War II Letters of Barbara Wooddall Taylor and Charles E. Taylor”.

Judy has received numerous awards throughout her career, including, in 2007, the prestigious Honorary Chairs’ Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Humanities from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities. In 2006, she received the Best in French Culture Award from the Office of Cultural Services of the French Embassy for her book, “An American Heroine in the French Resistance: The Diary and Memoirs of Virginia D’Albert-Lake” . She also received the 2018 Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award from the Marquis Who’s Who Publication Board. From Bryant, she received two Distinguished Faculty Member Awards, the Herstory Award, 12 Merit Awards and two Research & Publication Awards.

At the time of her death, Judy was a board member of Festival Ballet Providence and Stages of Freedom. She has also served as a board member of the Rhode Island Historical Society, Rhode Island Black Heritage Society, Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, Rhode Island Humanities Forum, USS Massachusetts Memorial Committee, Moses Brown School and Lincoln School.

Judy leaves behind two daughters, Nadja Pisula-Litoff and Alyssa Barrett Litoff, longtime partner Val Vlasov, sons-in-law Jim Pisula and Joshua Gordon, and six grandchildren, Dorothy, Pearce and Miles Pisula-Litoff, and Lillian, Barrett and Isabel Gordon.

A celebration of life service in honor of Judy, hosted by her daughters, will be held Saturday, August 6 at 2 p.m. at Moses Brown School. Please visit JudyBarrettLitoff.com or email [email protected] to reach her girls for more information.

Posted July 23, 2022

Posted in Providence Journal