Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Correspondence with Dr. Gerald Eggert -- Pennsylvania State University

When I was a college student at The Pennsylvania State University I took two history courses in the fall semester 1974 with Gerald Eggert, Ph.D.: History of the United States from Reconstruction to the Present (History 21) and History of the American Worker (History 368?).  I earned a grade of A in each course, as I did in most of my history courses.  Dr. Eggert served for several years as Chairman of the History Department at Penn State.

Dr. Eggert published his Ph.D. thesis as a book titled Richard Olney: Evolution of a Statesman.  Richard Olney served as the Attorney General of the United States in the administration of President Grover Cleveland, and had a pivotol role in the Pullman strike. (Incidentally, current U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., earned a degree in history from Columbia University).

The Pullman strike is one of my psychological associations in a dream interpretation I wrote titled "The Dream of the Four Miltons."

In the year 2005 I had the following email correspondence with Dr. Eggert, who is now 85 years old.

September 24, 2005:

Dr. Eggert,

If you're at all interested, you can access my webpage at

The webpage discusses my struggles with mental illness.  I was a student in two of your courses, The History of the American Worker and History 21 (U.S. History since Reconstruction).  You wrote a letter of recommendation for me for law school.  I went on to law school and later attained an LL.M. in International
Trade Law.

I greatly admired you as a teacher.


Penn State '75

September 26, 2005:

Dr. Hirshfield,

I'm sending along a very nice communication I received from Dr. Gerald Eggert, who used to be the chairman of the history department at Penn State.  I took two courses with Dr. Eggert at University Park.  He wrote a letter of recommendation for me for law school, which I ultimately attended.  I thought you might be
interested in what he wrote:

Dear Mr. Freed:

   Your message received and appreciated.  One of the things about being a teacher, you rarely know what impact if any you have had on your students--that is unless they thoughtfully contact you, as you have done.  Truthfully, I can not say that I remember   you, but then at age 79 and afflicted with Parkinson's Disease, there are a lot of things I do not remember.  Fortunately my PD did not start until I was 75, so it did not interfere with my career.  Some people get it at 25 or 35.  Also to date I have not had the tremors that one often has with PD,  so I can use a computer easily.

   I regret to learn  you have a mental illness.  I tried to call up your blogspot but only got the message that the blog manager had ordered it taken down.  However, though I have heard of blogs I am not sure I know
correctly how to retrieve them.  If you would like to tell me about your problem feel free to contract me by ordinary e-mail.


Gerald G. Eggert
professor emeritus, Department of History.

September 26, 2005:

Dr. Eggert,

Thank you for responding to my email.  I had sent emails to several Penn State professors who had an impact on me, including Dr. Claire Hirshifield, history professor emeritus, Ogontz campus.  I took the liberty of sharing your email with Dr. Hirshfield.  I admired Dr. Hirshfield a great deal.  To date, you have been the only teacher to respond to my communication.

Sorry to hear about your illness.  My own mental illness has had me unemployed for a number of years now.  But I live moderately well on Social Security disability.  Fortunately, my apartment in Washington, DC is rent controlled.

I was able to access my webpage.  It has not, in fact, been taken down.

Again, the site is at

An alternative way to access the webpage is to log onto -- then type in my username, which is garfreed -- and type in my password, which is xxxx

The blog continues at a second site -- username freedmantwo -- password xxxxx

You seem to have a positive attitude about your situation, which is heartening.

Warm regards,


September 29, 2005: 

Dr. Eggert,
Thank you very much for spending your time on the problems I presented to you.  I failed to mention that I have registered with a DC agency that helps place disabled workers in employment.  My hope is to find a satisfying job in the not-too-distant future, which will occupy my time and get me involved with people.  I am actually more optimistic about my future than some of my writings suggest.
Best wishes,

-----Original Message-----
From: Gerald G. Eggert <>
Sent: Thu, 29 Sep 2005 16:06:10 -0400
Subject: Reply

Mr Freedman:

  I was able to access your webpage and have read a portion of it--indeed as much as I am willing to spend my limited time on. I know of no solution to your problems, mental and otherwise. You have my sympathy which I know has little practical use. All I can do is tell you what my solution would be were I in your shoes. You have the ability to read, write, and understand very well. They are not substitutes for friends and human contacts, but do offer you an out of sorts.

  As I told you, I have Parkinsons for which there is no cure, am nearly 80 years old for which also there is no cure, and find myself ever less isolated from society, I work on problems that interest me. For several years I have done genealogical research on my family and my wife's family, using the same rules of evidence as I learned to use when writing serious history. I am combining the facts of those peoples lives with my knowledge of the history they were living. My audience is my own family and relatives. What I write has no great significance, but it gives me purpose, occupies my time, helps me understand myself and my family better, and keeps me from self-pity.

  I do not know your interests so can not advise you what to lose yourself in. To let yourself ramble as you do I would think only runs in circles and takes you no where. Old fashioned Puritan that I am, I feel that work is the answer to many of life's problems. My suggestion is sharpen and use the tools you have, create a purpose or goal, and get to work. Stop pitying yourself and regretting the past. The present and immediate future is all we have.

Best wishes,

Gerald G. Eggert

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