Eleanor Zelliot

6 June 2016
Eleanor Zelliot
Eleanor Zelliot

Eleanor Zelliot died June 5th at home in Randolph, MN, surrounded by loving friends and family. She was 89 years old. Eleanor taught History at Carleton from 1969 until her retirement in 1997 as the Laird Bell Professor of History emerita. Generations of students fell in love with India through her classes, learning to cook and eat Indian food at her house, experiencing Indian culture through the many events she organized, or traveling with her to Pune, India. She directed the ACM India Studies Program in Pune four times. Eleanor generously gave of her time and attention to her students, colleagues, and friends around the world, offering love, advice, and often a bit of wry humor.

Eleanor was one of the foremost international experts on the history of the Dalits (Untouchables) and their leader, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. Through her extensive writing and speaking in India, the US, and Europe, she helped to connect the Dalit Movement to other movements against oppression. Although she claimed she didn’t “do religion,” she wrote beautifully about the saint-poets of Maharashtra, as well as the importance of Buddhism in the lives of the Dalits. Eleanor’s social justice commitments came at least in part from her life-long commitment to the Friends (Quakers), through whom she first became a writer, editor, teacher, and went on a Quaker mission trip to the Soviet Union in 1955. She traveled widely, including well into retirement, and continued to write up until her last year.  

Eleanor is survived by two nephews, a niece, their families, and many close friends near and far.  

A memorial service for Eleanor will be held on Friday, June 17th, at 9am in the Carleton Chapel. A smaller memorial service in the manner of Friends will be held on Saturday, June 18th, at 2pm at the Cannon Valley Friends Meeting House (512 Washington St., Northfield). 

Please keep all of Eleanor’s family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.

In sorrow and gratitude for Eleanor’s life, Carolyn

Memorial Service for Eleanor Zelliott, June 17, 2016

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  • 2016-06-06 14:17:41
    Charles Adams Cogan

    When I came back to Carleton in 2000, one of the first people I connected with was Eleanor and it has been very meaningful to see her from time to time over the past sixteen years. In fact, about eight years ago she agreed to read a draft of a paper I was working on, which dealt with the impact of Persian religious traditions on other world religions and even on the political discourse in the United States at the time. Her comments, corrections and suggestions were very helpful and offered willingly. Not surprisingly, some of her feedback was blunt, when she felt I was getting too informal and chatty. In about 2005, when I was slated to visit a new United World College near Pune, I asked Eleanor for some travel advice. She immediately put me in touch with key people at Ferguson College in Pune (familiar to many who have attended the ACM program over the years) and set me up for a local vegetarian hotel/restaurant called "Shreyas" that was so affordable that it made me feel badly about the amounts I had spent in other cities in India. As a student, I took two classes with Eleanor and enjoyed them both. The reading options were always great and her network of eminent scholars of India was vast, bringing in some great guest lecturers and even a guest instructor one year when she was off leading an ACM program to India. As a history major, I did not end up specializing in South Asia, but the courses I took with Eleanor served me well in later years, when my first teaching job held the expectation of teaching three sections of World History. Her (signed) Sources of Indian History is sitting on my bookshelf as I write. Eleanor's ability to connect what we were learning about India to places far afield, including influences carried back and forth along the Silk Road(s) for centuries, made learning about India a natural part of understanding the wider world. Carleton's history department continues to be very strong, but the generation that included Eleanor, Diet Prowe, Phil Niles,Carl Weiner, Bill Woerhlin and others was full of strong personalities, deep passion and knowledge and a commitment to sharing the passion and the learning with those of us who were at the beginning of our journeys. Looking back, it would have been an interesting thing to be a fly on the wall at their faculty meetings. They must have had some great arguments.

  • 2016-06-06 16:03:40
    Cliff and Grace Clark

    Having worked in the office next to Eleanor's for many years, I can say that I will miss the constant peals of laughter that always came from her office. Eleanor had a wonderful sense of humor and she was always talking to students. Sometimes, it seemed, that they majored not in history but in Eleanor. 

    Lunch times were always the most interesting because Eleanor inevitably brough left-overs to eat and they invariably smelled out of this world. 

    Eleanor was a wonderful colleague and thoughtful mentor. We shall all miss her very much. 


  • 2016-06-06 17:42:14
    Melanie Field

    As a Chemistry major ('82) I only dipped my toe into the waters of the history department, but very much enjoyed Eleanor's Intro to India Class.  As it turns out, it provided a great foundation for my future - many years later I married into an Indian family.  I still make her chai recipe - almost 40 years later.  She will be missed, she was adored by many.

  • 2016-06-06 18:32:55
    David Chalk '84

    I studied with Prof. Zelliot in an introductory course in the fall of 1980 that was as much about writing as it was about history. It involved some sort of a historical appreciation of Kipling, if I recall correctly. Prof. Zelliot was an encouraging but demanding professor who I enjoyed and from whom I learned much. The Indian potluck at her house was pretty good, too.

    I only fully came to appreciate what a wonderful educator and person she was when I learned how she and Carl Weiner had fought valiantly to coach my friend Joe Swanson through his comps. Their dedication and interest in a student who was in need of help and compassion was a testament to their character and an inspiration.

  • 2016-06-06 18:54:49
    Mai Na M. Lee ('94)

    Eleanor Zelliot was my mentor and advisee after Hung left to go back to Hong Kong back in 1993. She was my teacher, my role model. She opened the world of the Mahabarata, the Bagivad Gita; she introduced me to Rama and Sita; to the arts, architecture, history, music, and the world of Indian civilization. I took all her classes. The most tasty lessons were the dinners at her house for every single of her classes, every term. She provided the ingredients and the recipies. We did the cooking while she supervised and ate with us when the food was all prepared. The lessons she imparted about history, about being a human being, and a woman in a human world remain with me today. I treasure her stories about the triumphs and challenges of being a White woman, an outsider, an untouchable, trying to study the untouchables of India. Her stories of triumph over gender and other human obstacles remain as inspiration for me, a woman also studying and writing history in a patriarchal universe. She was the only professor who cared enough about me to quietly handed me a gift at graduation. It was a 3 inch granite statue of the Chinese Goddess of Wisdom. She told me to pursue the goddess to the end, and I did. To this day, I continue to follow the footsteps of the goddes in the hopes of getting a glance of her form someday. I have yet to perceive her form, although I begin to see the trailings of her garments sometimes.

    Eleanor, you will be missed by the world and by me. Wherever I go, the mere mention that you were my mentor brings admirable stares, stirring pride in the depths of my heart. I am glad I have had a chance to encounter you however briefly in this lifetime. If reincarnation triumphs in the end, we shall meet again in another lifetime as mentor and student, as friends, as collegues. Goodbye for now, my teacher.

  • 2016-06-06 19:40:04
    Judy Holt Sutton '72

    I took a class on the history of India from Eleanor Zelliot, then had the temerity to ask her for a reference for a study program in Florence.  She told me I needed to go to India instead.  I am so glad I did.  She led the program in Pune in 1971, and being on the trip was one of the foundational experiences of my life.  It colors so much of the way I look at the news, politics, and social issues.  We got a wonderful education.  She coped with our illnesses, dealt with host family problems, and helped us make sense of a culture which was so different from our own.  Though I ended up with a career in medicine, the experience continues to reverberate in my life.  I hosted a medical resident from India.  Next weekend I will dig out some of my pictures and souvenirs, and make dinner for some neighbors who happen to be from Pune.  Thank you, Eleanor Zelliot, for all you did.  Rest in peace.

  • 2016-06-06 22:39:55
    Sonali Patankar-Mhalgi

    Zelliot Aunty knew me from my birth.. My father Shrikant Patankar ( ACM - India Studies Program) was a very good collegue and a very dear friend of her... She was the best person i know as there was no age bar , no inttlectual ego,  just pure friendship and love. Her work on Babasaheb Ambedkar is just phenomenal . She loved the indian food which my mother used to cook. When I visited her long back, she asked me to make the Varan-Bhat ( Dal Rice) which my mother used to make for her. I

    I have very fond memories of her. Good bye Zelliot Aunty..... We all are going to miss you a lot. But i am sure my father & mother will be happy to see you with  them...Love ...Rest in Peace !

  • 2016-06-07 04:09:39
    D Shyam Babu

    I am not as fortunate as many here who have known and interacted with Prof. Eleanor Zelliot. In 1991 I attended her lecture in Delhi during Dr Ambedkar’s birth centenary celebrations. She was very happy and proud of telling us that one of the examiners of her PhD thesis complimented her that she had sounded more like a daughter of Dr Ambedkar!

    I had a couple of brief interactions with her in conferences but not enough for her to remember me. In 2007 when I was co-editing (with Prof. R.S. Khare) a volume of biographical sketches of caste (which came out as Caste in Life), I emailed her for a paper. Being an authority on Ambedkar and the Dalit movement, could she share her experiences of caste as an everyday reality, I asked. She immediately agreed and sent in her paper (My experience with Caste) much before we started sending reminders to other contributors.

    In addition to so many other accomplishments, Eleanor will be remembered as the first and preeminent Ambedkar scholar.

    RIP, Dear Eleanor.

    D. Shyam Babu, Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research (New Delhi)

  • 2016-06-07 04:38:49
    Prof. P G Jogdand, Mumbai

    It is a very shocking and sad news for all of us here in the University of Mumbai. The academic contribution of Dr Eleanor Zelliot is enormous and praiseworthy. I met her and discussed  my research work several times and I realised that she was deeply concerned with the life and works of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. She, on my request, presented a xerox copy of her Ph D thesis. I learnt a lot from her -- polite, cooperative person, used to speak Marathi. She was a source for all of us in the academics. A true Ambedkarite who contributed for Ambedkarite discourse, world renowned scholar. It is loss to the academics and the discourse. We will cherish her memories and works.


    Prof P G Jogdand. Mumbai

  • 2016-06-07 06:52:15
    Ostara Hollyoak (formerly: Colleen Raske)

    Eleanor Zelliot was a beloved teacher, mentor, and friend. She was at once utterly human and absolutely monumental. I will remember her, always, for her quirky humor, her hospitality, her devotion to scholarship, her dedication to human rights, and her caring attitude toward her students. Blessed be Eleanor.

  • 2016-06-07 08:35:36
    Heinz Werner Wessler

    May she rest in peace. - I knew her from her publications, and had some wonderful communication with her which helped me to understand the dynamics of Dalit emancipation in Maharashtra.

  • 2016-06-07 09:34:16
    Richard Dorfsman ('91)

    Eleanor Zelliot was my teacher, advisor and friend.  After reading about her passing, I spoke to my friends this morning about the dinners at her house, every semester or so, that she invited her students to prepare.  At a time in my life when books, word-processors and classroom discussions at Carleton filled my life, the way she organized us students into work-stations to do a part of the cooking was eye-opening.  It was a journey into a new way of working cooperatively, and sharing space.  She had arranged us in her tiny kitchen perfectly, so that we all had a task.  Even those of us who knew little about cooking, and almost nothing about Indian cuisine, had a place and felt useful. It made you feel very human.  Bless Eleanor, I will miss her. 

  • 2016-06-07 09:57:10
    Karthik Navayan

    Rest in Power Professor Dr. Eleanor Zelliot. Jai Bhim! You will be remebered most of the time in India, several generations to come. 

    Karthik Navayan 

  • 2016-06-07 12:32:13
    Milind Moon

     It is very sad news for us. Eleanor Zelliot or mausi always used to visit our home during visit to India. My father Vasant Moon and she used to discuss dalit literature. She showered lot of love in our family. We will remember her forever.

  • 2016-06-07 13:48:08
    Tom Tilden '80

    I had the privilege of studying South Asian/Indian history with Eleanor Zelliot. I can attest that she was interested in her students and passionately interested in the proper use of their intellectual capabilities. She challenged me to be a better writer and thinker (I think the order should be reversed there). And she opened my eyes to a quite different way to view our world, and some universals - like what makes a good government - or a legitimate government. The class on the Bhakti Tradition which she co-taught with the religion dept was just amazing. And, she was always interested in us - her students. And she was so unafraid. She changed the course of my life, for sure. 

  • 2016-06-07 14:02:59
    Linda Walton

    I am profoundly saddened to learn of Eleanor's passing. She became my mentor in my first teaching job in the Carleton History Department, 1978-1980, and her support and experience made all the difference for me. As someone else noted, the faculty in those days was a remarkable group of people, strong personalities and fine historians, utterly dedicated to their students. But Eleanor at that time was the only other woman, "Mother India" as she was called, and she took her role as mentor very seriously. Because we were both in Asian Studies, I saw her a few times at conferences, and probably the last time when she received the award from the Association for Asian Studies for distinguished contributions to Asian Studies. We remained in touch until quite recently, but I had always hoped to get back to Northfield and visit her at her home in Randolph.  I never made it, and that is something I greatly regret. What a wonderful legacy of students, colleagues, and friends she has left! Peace be with you, dear Eleanor.

  • 2016-06-07 16:24:54
    Mike Stortz '84

    Eleanor is a person with many gifts. One of her greatest was and is in bringing people together, and with that so many points of view. She was my college advisor and then lifelong friend, and for both there is such gratitude. Through her I also had the great fortune of meeting so many wonderful people in and around Northfield and Pune. Thank you so very much, dear teacher and friend!

  • 2016-06-07 21:43:31
    Santosh Kumar Rai,University of Delhi

    Social History Writing about India and a world view which guided genereations of scholar is lost forever.Thank you for your Contribution and Rest in Peace.

  • 2016-06-08 02:44:18
    Rajendra Gonarkar, Nanded (MS) India

    Eleanor Zelliot was a great Ambedkarite thinker. Through her scholarly writing on Ambedkariate movement in India; she extensively connect the Dalit Movement to the other movements against oppression. This is big contribution of Eleanor Zelliot. We will remember her forever.


  • 2016-06-08 03:03:33
    Morris Schreibman '78

    After less than 2 months in a "history 13" freshman seminar tought by Eleanor Zelliot my first term at Carleton, I'd decided to major in history.

    Beyond just the study of history she was a wonderful, supportive and encouraging teacher and  adviser. One of my great college memories is of  sitting with her alone in her office reviewing a paper I'd written for her class and going over it line-by-line and rewriting it so that my basic ideas finally showed a remarkable clarity. 

    Eleanor's role in my education at Carleton was a significant one, and I receive the news of her passing with great sadness. 


    [and let it be known that it has taken me 20 minutes and multiple rewrites to complete this 3-sentence remembrance: Eleanor would have wanted nothing less] 

  • 2016-06-08 07:25:03
    Christopher Queen, Harvard University

    Just before my first trip to India in 1987, I learned that Eleanor Zelliot was the leading American authority on the Dalit human rights struggle and Buddhist conversion spearheaded by B. R. Ambedkar.  As a religion scholar, I wanted to learn what I could about the spritual dimensions of the movement.  I called Prof. Zelliot and immediately found myself scribbling down lists of people that I "must meet" and places I "must visit."  This professor became an instant friend and mentor who wanted to get me started on a journey that continues today.  She sent me to Vasant Moon, who was editing Ambedkar's complete speeches and writings, and his wife Minakshi Moon, an activist for Dalit women's rights -- who insisted that I sleep on their sofa during my stays in Mumbai -- Prof. Sudhadeo Thorat of Jawaharlal Nehru University, and many more Dalit scholars, activists, associates and family of Dr. Ambedkar.  We traveled together on future trips to India, meeting important figures and speaking at academic meetings.  She led me to archives of Ambedkar's writings and personal books, from which his intellectual and spiritual journey could be reconstructed.  As her students and colleagues have reported, Eleanor had a profound understanding of the history and culture of India, a deep humanity and a wonderful sense of humor.  I only wish I had had the opportunity to taste her Indian cooking!

  • 2016-06-08 08:30:27
    • May her soul rest in peace.
    • She was a very dear friend of my mom- in- law.
    • The first time I met her was when I went to receive her at Mumbai Apt, 20 yrs back, she smiled brightly and spoke to me in Marathi..I was a surprised and amazed too...
    • Will always remember the time we spent together and cherish all the sweet memories..
  • 2016-06-08 09:25:42
    Shura Darapuri, Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar University

    Our house in Delhi was being regarded as an ‘intellectual haven’ by scholars who had been working on Caste, Dr Ambedkar, Modern Buddhist movement and many other related topics. That was because my father Mr Bhagwan Das was known for his great intellect and close association with Dr Ambedkar. I must have been very young when renowned scholar Madam Eleanor Zelliot would have visited our house. But as I grew up my father had already made me familiar with her extraordinary work. And now when I take classes on Dr Ambedkar, Modern Buddhist movement or Caste, I tell my students that without referring to Madam Zelliot’s work, the understanding of the subject remains incomplete. The news of her sudden demise has left us all in deep sorrow and anguish.

  • 2016-06-08 10:01:31
    Stephen Selden '71

    Until 1971 I didn't have a clue what an Upanishad was. Then I sat down in Dr Zelliot's class.

    She was a good part of my ispiration for going to India in '72 to wander around for a while and see for myself... 

    Lovely human being, and a giant in her field. I will always remember her fondly.

  • 2016-06-08 10:18:19
    Phyllis Genther Yoshida '76

    I took Eleanor's class my freshman year and greatly enjoyed both the substance, and yes, cooking Indian food. Last night I had the pleasure of attending a dinner at which Indian Prime Minister Modi spoke about his hopes for all Indian citizens -- education, health, energy access, etc. He also spoke of the need to deepen the U.S.-Indian relationship -- the world's first democracy and the world's largest democracy. I remembered as I listened what Eleanor had taught us so many years ago, and hoped she would be pleased with the direction India is going.

  • 2016-06-08 10:54:43
    Paul Conklin '80

    I never had a class from Eleanor, but she had a profound effect on my life.  The weekly Quaker meeting at her home introduced me to a manner of worship that has been my spiritual home ever since.  That restful silence, with the smell of Indian Railroad Tea brewing on the stove, a black cat making the round of laps, sitting with fellow students who are friends to this day, and with Eleanor's strength and warmth surrounding it all with just enough guidance to get us on our spiritual feet... a memory that calms and centers me still.

  • 2016-06-08 11:39:35
    MIchelle Herder '97

    Eleanor was perhaps my favorite professor, and certainly one of those who influenced me most. Though I ended up not specializing in south Asian history, I took, I think, four classes with her, which were incredible, mind-expanding opportunities. She was also a marvelously supportive mentor, and as I proceeded to my own graduate work, I always kept her in mind as a role model. If I can have a fraction of the impact on my own students that she had on hers, I can consider myself successful.

  • 2016-06-08 11:42:33
    Shana [Ferguson] Loshbaugh '76

    More than 40 years ago, I took Dr. Zelliot's class on the history of ancient India. She was one of the best and most inspirational professors I ever had, and the class opened my eyes to the vast subcontinent. I've never been to India, but one of my daughters spent a semester there, perhaps in part inspired by the Indian legends that I first heard from Eleanor Zelliot and later read to my children. The dinner party at her home is one of my fondest Carleton memories. She taught me how to wear a sari and drink chai.  She touched so many lives!

  • 2016-06-08 12:07:28
    Rosemarie '85

    Winter history class - I most remember her thoughtfulness & love of what she taught. She invited us to meet at her home for Saturday morning classes & served us (my 1st experience) hot chai! What a treat! What a professor!

  • 2016-06-08 13:59:14
    Mary Brennan '75

    Eleanor was an advisor, mentor, friend and the inspiration to embrace my independent spirit. She stood next to me at my wedding. It was such a pleasure to house sit for Monster many times, even though I don't like cats and Monster lived up to her name. Eleanor taught me so much, even though I never took a course from her. She ignited my independent thinking and passions. Her love of learning, justice, and contagious passion for life, all infused with her unique sense of humor have been the cornerstones of my life. I will always feel your spirit, my friend, much love and peace.

  • 2016-06-08 16:15:00
    Paul Yeomans ('81)

    Eleanor was my academic advisor and guided me along through my many peaks and valleys at Carleton. When I  first met with her as my advisor, I warned her that I was not going to be her typical student and that I was struggling academically and wondered why I was still there. She took my words totally in stride and calmly asked me, "Then why are you?" It put the the focus back on me and I slowly figured things out.

    I too remember the sweet Indian tea she seemed to always have brewing at her home. She was an example of a professor who truely connected with students and had an open door - from classes sitting on her living room floor, informal Indian dinners again at her place, to an open office door in Leighton Hall to drop bye and talk. It was with her support and encouragement that I finished my degree. Thanks EZ, you really made an impact on me and so many others.


  • 2016-06-08 22:03:52
    Chris Berg '71

    I have fond memories of Eleanor's class in Southeast Asian History — which coincided with the campus strike in response to the US invasion of Cambodia. That class became a quick lesson in focus on essentials in the midst of a distracting environment. Her dedication was both a breath of fresh air and an answer to the pulls of ideology and enthusiasm. I am very respectful that she was able to so guide us. I'm glad she was able to continue at Carleton for an extended period.

  • 2016-06-09 00:57:59
    Nancy Bird '75

    I love the picture posted of Eleanor! You can see the compassion and joy she had for life, her work and her many friends. Like some others who have shared memories, I was one of her students who was lucky to spend hours with her reviewing my papers and learning the fine art of rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. It has served me well and I am very grateful to have landed with her as my advisor. Before advising me on history, however, we became acquainted as she helped me organize a dinner to raise funds for Bangladesh. I learned a little about Quakers from her and, particularly the American Friends Service Committee. Her influence made me a longtime donor to AFSC and supporter of many of their programs. I regret not staying in closer touch with her over the years. She was an inspiration for me. I always think of her when Ambedkar or the Dalit Movement is mentioned in the news.

    I also remember her very fondly when I put on a sari as she once told me of an early, embarassing moment in her first visit to Pune... while riding her bicycle, the sari was caught in the bike's chain and pulled off! That's always my worst fear but her humor about it relieves that angst!

    Rest well, Eleanor; you've earned it, though we'll miss you. 

  • 2016-06-09 08:59:05
    Sherri Hildebrandt '80

    Eleanor Zelliot was the reason I became a history major. I took her History of Modern India class, and she made India and its place in the world come alive and relevant for me. She showed me that history is a constantly changing concept and gave me a new way to look at world events in a wider context. I didn't concentrate on Asia, but that class sparked a lifelong interest in that part of the world and a great desire to visit it some day.

    At a class dinner at her house, she introduced us to chai -- Indian railroad tea -- which was one of the most wonderful and unexpected pleasures I ever got from a class! Her house itself was memorable, the quintessential professor's cozy house and lovely yard. And though I wouldn't describe Eleanor as "cozy," she made connections with her students that lasted long after the class was over, offering practical advice, common sense and encouragement -- exactly what many of us needed.

    I will always think of Eleanor with a mix of respect, fondness and gratitude. I wish I had told her what a profound effect she had on my life.

  • 2016-06-09 13:18:00
    Anantanand Rambachan, Saint Olaf College

    Eleanor was a dear colleague and friend of our family. She welcomed us to Minnesota and introduced us to the Hindu community and the Hindu Mandir. At the birth of our first child, Eleanor presented her with the gift of an Indian-made note book.  Our daughter used this notebook for writing Sanskrit mantras and Hindi bhajans. It is among our treasured family possessions. We will miss her.

  • 2016-06-09 16:30:27
    Philip Engblom, University of Chicago

    I too was Eleanor's student. Never, alas, in a position to take one of her fabled courses from her! But she was a crucial and generous (as in all things!) member of my dissertation committee. And a mentor and example like none other, over the years both before and since. How much I learned about the process of the scholarly life from the projects (of translation and editing) we worked on together, and what extraordinary personal interest she took in my own subsequent work, both in teaching and writing! Where would the once much over-looked field of Marathi and Maharashtra studies be today without her zealous, unflagging promotion of it over so many years? And hand-in-glove with that, it goes without saying, there was her critical, catalytic role in bringing Babasaheb and the Dalit Movement to the fore in our contemporary understandings of India. But important as that all is, what strikes me as at least as important if not more in remembering Eleanor was her astonishing capacity for bringing people together. How many people both here and in India, many of them my most cherished friends, have I come to know because of Eleanor! Just seeing the outpouring over the last couple of days of so much affection and respect in remembering Eleanor, from so many different people, from so many different places, and on so many different forums has been both humbling and inspiring. Friends of Eleanor. That's quite a legacy!


  • 2016-06-09 17:57:39
    Emily Barr '80

    I have two wonderful memories of Eleanor Zelliott.  First, as a reluctant participant in her freshman seminar (I needed the writing credit).  After writing maybe two short papers, she told me my writing was fine but my research was sorely lacking.  By the end of the term, we had a heart to heart about college and what one needs to gain from the experience.  She told me she could tell I was clearly enjoying my time at Carleton but one thing I had definitely failed to learn was very much about Indian history. I was embarrassed but she absolved me of my failure to study and wished me nothing but the best during my time at Carleton.  The second memory is having a meal (maybe two?) at her lovely home.  The food, the tea, the aromas - I fell in love with Indian cuisine right then and there.  May her memory be a blessing.

  • 2016-06-10 09:28:20
    Beth Lewis '71

    I did not take a class from Eleanor, but I still learned from her.  During the campus strike in 1970, she invited students to her home in an informal seminar to learn about the history, culture and issues of VietNam and Southeast Asia.  She helped me get past the headlines.  Besided her knowledge, she shared her commitment to Peace.  

  • 2016-06-10 11:31:08
    Melinda Russell

    Eleanor was assigned as my mentor when I joined the Carleton faculty in 1996.  I was terrified -- she was a legendary professor, a formidable intellect, and she corrected by pronunciation.  She was a wonderful and generous mentor, though, with advice and great stories about India, the classroom, and Carleton in particular.  I visited her class and watched in amazement as she worked through index cards, calling on each student in turn.  Eleanor let me know I was arriving at Carleton at rather a better time for women than had she, but she was not bitter.  For a few years after her retirement,  I'd drive Eleanor up to Udupi in Minneapolis, or bring back food, and I treasure those trips and the times at her lovely home.  I had fallen out of touch with Eleanor in the last few years, to my regret, but am deeply grateful to those friends who must have gone to great effort to help Eleanor remain in her treasured home. 

  • 2016-06-12 09:04:50
    Prof. Varsha Shirgaonkar

    I met Dr. Eleanor Zelliot, for the first time, at the Bhakti conference held in Venice in August 1997. Her research on Ambedkar and Bhakti movement of Maharashtra impressed me in the very first visit. She was plunged into the Bhakti Movement of Maharashtra. Eleanor's smile always was beautiful and it did add a special touch to her erudite scholarship. She was, as if, living symbol of spiritualism in body and mind. I remember, when I obtained research grant of the Coins and Medals Section of the British Museum, London for my project on "Indian Tokens", she had sent specially some religious tokens of India in her possession for me. The memory of her seminar which I had arranged in Ramnarain Ruia College, Mumbai (where I was the Head of Department of History previously) in the year 2000 is still with me.

    I am sure her eternal presence is felt by many of us in Maharashtra!

    Dr. Varsha Shirgaonkar, Professor & Head, Department of History, SNDT Women's University, Mumbai

  • 2016-06-12 14:08:03
    Mona Tahar '81

    On her way back from one of her trips to India, Eleanor stopped by to visit with me in Tunisia for a few days. I had moved there after graduating from Carleton. Because of her interest in the history of Islam, we visited together the city of Kairouan where early Muslims built the first and most important mosque of North Africa. This visit was, for both of us, a time of learning but also a time to laugh. 

    Learning because, no surprise here, she knew more about this place than I will ever know! Why we laughed? because she reminded me, with her amused and caring smile (should I say smirk?) of how poorly I had presented my paper about this very subject at a senior seminar on Islam during my freshman year, and what a "dum dum" I was !!!! Has anyone else ever felt as privileged when she called him or her dum dum ??? She had admitted me, the eager freshman that I was, in a senior seminar, which was to be the beginning of a very special friendship extending beyond the relationship of a master and her student.

    Yes, we laughed a lot together but she had also been there for me when my tears flowed. Indian meals, railway tea, sitar music, endless chatter.... you've been there, you know what I'm talking about.... The door to her doll-sized house was always open for me, as it was to others, at all times, even when she wasn't actually there....

    Visiting Carleton will never be the same again. Not that I get there very often but her presence always gave an added purpose to my visits. Having observed her strength and determination during her illness was a lesson, never to be forgotten, about facing adversity, without the hint of a complaint, with deep faith.

    Rest in peace, dear Eleanor, I miss you so much....

  • 2016-06-13 14:28:03
    Barbara Merrill '74

    Eleanor was my advisor, teacher, coach and good friend.  Many have talked about her classes, her wonderful Indian dinners and her commitment to learning and asking probing questions.  I agree with these sentiments and will always remember the seminar I took from her on Islam in India as one of the best courses I have taken. But what I will remember of her is helping me decide that adopting a child from India would be wonderful.  When I was going through the home study, Eleanor was invited to speak at a conference on international adoption that I attended.  She talked about the nutritional components of a typical diet of poor people in India and how well balanced it was nutritionally, helping ensure that while Indian infants may be small, they will most likely not have any brain damage due to lack of food.  I talked with her afterward and went on to adopt my two wonderful daughters from India. 

    The second thing from Eleanor that has stayed with me is her commitment to the importance of geography on history.  She included a large detailed map of India in her book list and referred to it often.  She insisted that if we didn't understand the geography of India, we would not understand its history and religions.  My love of maps has stayed with me.  I wish more people shared her insight into the importance of maps when learning.

    Eleanor's commitment to people, her love of India, her work with the Quakers and her probing questions have touched so many.  Thanks for all you have done for Carleton, India and so many individuals around the world. You will be missed.

  • 2016-06-13 15:48:33
    Kay Biga '82

    Eleanor Zelliott changed the course of my life in many ways.  She inspired me to become a history major and to sign up for the ACM India Studies program in 1981.  To think that she had been studying and working in India since the 1950's is quite amazing.  Eleanor's influence has even extended to my oldest son who went to study in India himself.

    In addition, Eleanor has been a model for me as a teacher.  I fondly remember the care that she took with all of her students and I try to do the same for mine.  Going to her house for chai tea is one of my best memories.

    I feel fortunate that my husband and I traveled to her home within the last couple of years in order to see her. Of course, by that time she was very frail.  Thanks to the folks who took such good care of her.

    My kids have already been told that I want a grandchild named Eleanor in honor of this wonderful professor !

  • 2016-06-13 22:51:38
    Fadi Hakim '13

    I went to Eleanor's house a handful of times and when she was at Three Links for a few months. She told me that writing about Ekalavya in the Mahabharata is a good start for someone who is interested in language, narratives, and their social message. Needless to say, Eleanor knew how to inspire students to not only be passionate about research, but also to find a commitment to social justice through their own pathways.

  • 2016-06-14 15:04:15
    Irina Glushkova, Center for Indian Studies, Institute of Oriental Studies of Russian Academy of Sciences

    Anne Feldhaus and I used to call Eleanor -- at least in between us -- Eleanor-bai, thus paying to the matriarch in the field of Maharashtrian studies our utmost affection and respect even in her absence, though not without a hint of humour. She was the best among us in many respects, including her academic qualification and human qualities. Anne and I used to repeat to each other that we wanted to be like her which we knew we would not be able to achieve. My English fails me to express the saddest loss that I expereince - I won't be able to call her from my Moscow home with no other erason but just to say, "I love you, Eleanor', and hear in response, 'But why, Irina? Why do you love me?" 

    This is something I have just come across in one of my old note-books -- Bizet' Habanera rewritten for Eleanor's birthday which coincided with one of our gets-together, most probably at the time of one of the Maharashtra conferences in Pune --

    "Who's so handsome, who's so clever?/ Who's so intelligent and bold? / Who will never, really never / Grow conservative and old?/ Who is a bhakta of all the bhaktas? / A dalit of all dalits? /A Mahratta of all Mahrattas / With noble heart and merry wits -- Rf. It's you, it's you...

    These are the words that I would have repeated at the Memorial Service of Eleanor-bai.

    Deeply saddened, Irina

  • 2016-06-14 16:45:02
    MaryLiz Johnston, class of 1980

    Eleanor Zelliot was my favorite professor.  I majored in history because I wanted her as my advisor and mentor.  She taught me one of the most valuable pieces of knowledge that I have ever received--that the way something is presented will tell you much more about about the beliefs and values of the person who is presenting the information than about the subject that is actually being presented.   As a young woman of 19 years old, that was an eye-opening revelation for me.  From the first class I took with her through my "comps"  exam, I was continually inspired by her: her kindness, her humor and her underlying core of strength and will which took "no crap from nobody." (that probably should have been more elegantly put but I think she would have chuckled at the use of the vernacular as long as it wasn't in my comps paper).  I remember Indian dinners at her house and the Indian Railway Chai and the Indian pudding made by melting spaghetti in butter; I still have the purple mimeograph copies she gave us which no longer have that great smell (young people reading this will need to look up mimeograph and trust me that the odor was addicting).  She also gave me some of the best advise I have ever gotten when near the end of senior year she asked me what I was going to do when I graduated.  I replied that I really had no clue and that it worried me.  She looked at me and said, "It doesn't matter that you don't know what you want to do, it matters that you keep moving", then what you are supposed to do will come to you.  That advise has stuck with me over all these years and had served me well in finding my careers (yes, plural), jobs and interests.  I was grateful for the opportunity to thank her for that advise at my 25th reunion (over the phone as she was physically unable to come to the tea hosted by the history department).  When I told her what her advise had meant to me,  she chuckled and said then it must have been good advise in that case.  I am so grateful to have known Eleanor.  She gave so much to all of us and her presence and teaching were incredible gifts.  

  • 2016-06-14 22:30:27
    Shreeyash Palshikar, Albright College

    It has taken a few days for the news of Eleanor's passing to really sink in because I remember her as such a lively person. She was a real inspiration and mentor to me for many years even though I never technically stuied with her. She had met my mother, a fellow American in Pune, years before I was even born. I met Eleanor after college in a summer Marathi course at The University of Michigan, and she was one of the people who most encouraged me to go to graduate school, to study Maharashtra, and to study history. I am a history professor working on Maharashtra now in large part because of her belief in me and in the importance of these callings. She opened my eyes to an entire world of scholarship and to new points of view, and generously introduced me to her wonderful circle of like-minded people. I will cherish her memory and inspiration, and hope to be for my students a bit of what she was for me and for her students and colleagues worldwide for so many years. Her unique combination of common-sense, analytical rigor, compassion, and sense of social justice is very rare and needed now more than ever.

  • 2016-06-15 10:33:15
    Arlene and Satish Palshikar

    Our family members have fond memories of Eleanor, a remarkable and warm person, a treasure.  Our deepest condolences to her family and friends.  Our paths have crossed numerous times through the years.  During the Nixon presidency, when her group could not get visas to come to Pune, I was asked to "house sit" the bungalow they used.  It was when Satish and I were having our wedding in Pune, and Eleanor gave us permission to have my parents stay at the bungalow!  (1972) They were still recovering from a car accident a few months before, and having such a comfortable place to stay made all the difference.  We also have some of her books, and our son, Shreeyash, had Marathi classes with her in Ann Arbor after he graduated from high school.  He got his PhD from U. Chicago, and now is professor of history at Albright College, and an Indian magician.  One of her students lives in Portland, and had contact with an Indian woman and her two small sons, in a serious abusive situation.  Her student called Eleanor, and was told to call Arlene.  We were able to help, and we had a sister-relationship for many years.  Satish and I, along with our children, have been regular attenders at a wonderful Quaker church, and my first visit to a Quaker church was with Eleanor, when we were at the Rotating Summer Insititue, in 1968.  Eleanor was friends with my in-laws, and they often wished my speaking and understanding of Marathi were as good as hers!  These are just a few highlights of the many memories we share.  

  • 2016-06-15 12:52:10
    Professor Sukhadeo Thorat

    We had a condolence meeting in Delhi at Jawaharlal Nehru University on 8th June. This meeting was organised by three organisations,

    • Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Discrimination, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi
    • Indian Instsitute of Dalit Studies, Delhi,
    • United Dalit Student Forum.

    About 70 persons participated and seven persons spoke on the occasion and highlighted the contribution of Eleanor Zelliot for the cause of Dalits, marginalized perople in India. In the end the participants resolved to convey the following message to her family members, and to be read out on 17th and 19th. On behalf of the participants I request you to read out the message as a token of our appreciation for the contribution of Eleanor.

    The people gathered here expressed their sorrow and grief on the demise of Eleanor Zelliot on June 5th, 2016. She first visited India in 1952 and then in 1964 and then kept on visiting for the next several years, until she could not travel due to her health. She has been mentioned as "Mother of Dalit People." She is the first one who brought Ambedkar and his movement for the emancipation of the oppressed people in India to the notice of people in USA and the West and English-speaking world. It is due to her untiring research work that the English-speaking world got to know the problem of Untouchables all over as early as 1960. This led to generations of scholars who worked on the problems of oppressed people. This also led to studies on these issues in universities in USA. If there are many scholars in the universities in USA doing research on the issues of Dalits, caste, and Ambedkar, it is due to Eleanor's untiring research work, which she made a life-long mission. Back home she inspired many to work on the issues of the oppressed. She was a friend to many and a mother to young researchers and students and a mother-figure in the world of Dalit studies.

    The participants expressed their mind and spoke of her place in their personal life. In the end, the participants took a decision to bring out a volume, a book in memory of her, to highlight and let people know her contribution to the cause of oppressed people in India and outside India. The participants also decided to set up an Eleanor Zelliot Chair in the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, Delhi, and possibly in some university.

    The participants shared their grief with the family members.

    On behalf of the participants,

    Dr. Sukhadeo Thorat,

    Professor Emeritus, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, India

    Chairman, Indian Council of Social Science Research, New Delhi

  • 2016-06-15 12:54:55
    Sudhir Waghmare

    Eleanor was the first woman who made the whole world aware of Dr. Ambedkar's work. The whole of Dalit society in India will always be grateful to her for this important contribution.

    I lost my parents many years ago, but Eleanor's death has robbed me once again of my mother. She gave me a mother's love; she took care of me like a mother.

    Her death has orphaned us. We pray to the Lord that her soul may be at peace.

    On behalf of our whole family, I pay our deepest respect to her.

    Sudhir Waghmare and family, 6 June 2016

  • 2016-06-15 14:03:10
    Prerna Rotellu

    I'm Sudhir Waghmare's daughter Prerna. I had a very close bond with Eleanor since my birth. My sisters and I spent time quietly with her. Our entire childhood was really memorable, and now we feel honoured, as we have many wonderful memories of time we spent with her.

    She was very special for my father. He really misses her. He says, "One more time I have lost my mother." That much love she gave him after he lost his mother. He talks about their friendship and those young days when she used to visit India. Her presence used to seem very energetic. With always laughing face. She brought gifts for us and that moment for us would be one of lots of happiness.

    During our childhood we never got to know about her work. Gradually we got to know that she was a very important personality, we got to know about her efforts, about her popularity not only in the US or India but in the entire world. On realising this, we felt honoured and proud that such a great personality was our Aunt (in Marathi--Mavshi).

    During a period she spent an ample amount of her time with my father. They both stood still during ups and downs and were always ready to help each other. He feels proud that his friend researched on Dr. Ambedkar.

    Although Eleanor Mavshi had achieved so much respect in life, she remained the same. She always loved us and this used to make us cheerful. She always encouraged us. When my elder sister, Kranti, visited the US for higher education, Eleanor Mavshi along with Anne Feldhaus provided us help and precious love.

    It is very disheartening to believe that such a wonderful human being is not with us now. But she's with us with her books, her work. In memory of her we are holding a condolence meeting here in Pune.

    We salue her and her effortless work.


    Thank you,

    Prerna, Sudhir, Pushpa, Kranti, Shraddha, Satish, Eshaan and Ruyaag.

  • 2016-06-15 18:47:04
    Paul Erspamer '79

    I met Eleanor Zelliot after a talk she gave on the Indian Independence Movement.  Friends who had taken her "Intro to India Part 1" history class the previous semester had motivated me to check out the program.  The result was that Eleanor Zelliot became my advisor and my inspiration in college.  She was also my friend.  She inspired me to focus my studies in history in the region of South Asia.  She inspired me to visit India and to live with a family in Pune and to learn to speak the Marathi language during the ACM India Program in 1978.

    This was no small thing to me --  I had never previously traveled on an aircraft. 

    But more than inspiring my travels to Asia -- Eleanor Zelliot shaped my worldview.  She would try to build compassion & understanding and empathy:  "Allow everyone ONE MAJOR FLAW, Paul... One major flaw", she would urge.  And she taught me to develop a critical eye in evaluating a written piece.  She'd say:  "If we can teach you to cite to your sources and to tighten up your writing, you'll be an historian".  This said with a look, perhaps partly amusement & perhaps (partly) that of a lioness overseeing a wayward cub.

    Eleanor Zelliot's own scholarship is so well acknowledged and respected as to need no comment from me, other than to express my admiration.  She chose to study and to embrace and to help draw the world's attention (in place of neglect) to an under-served and under-recognized Dalit community.  Her time was well-spent.

    Eleanor Zelliot was inclusive.  She brought people together from all over the world, creating a community of like-minded and critical-thinking scholars.  The meeting place was most often her home.  Her chai tea created life-long tea lovers.  I'm one of them.  And there are many of us who learned the delights of Indian Cuisine and of international travel from her.

    Eleanor Zelliot was truly one of a kind.  That encounter with Eleanor created an indelible mark.  I will never forget her.





  • 2016-06-15 19:08:43
    Janet M. Davis (Osborne) '86

    I mourn the passing of my advisor, mentor, and friend. Eleanor was a great scholar of modern South Asian history and a fantastic teacher. In addition to generously offering me years of wise counsel, she made chocolate cake for my children and always took us down to see the Cannon River behind her house when we visited.

    Back in 1986 when the bomb icon appeared on my Mac Plus screen after an all-nighter (my senior thesis was due that morning!), Eleanor calmly told me that I would be able to recreate the sixteen pages I had just lost "even better" than what I had originally written. I took her message to heart and persevered. Years later I told her that her words had kept me going in the midst of my mini-disaster. She laughed and said, "I had no idea what else to say." 

    Eleanor supported me at every turn--even though my path to becoming a historian was unconventional: I worked as a flight attendant for three years after graduating from Carleton; I entered a graduate program in South Asian history, but emerged as an Americanist (but retained a strong comparative interest in South Asia); and I lived on the edge of the Wisconsin Northwoods with two babies and my husband (a teacher) for a sizable chunk of my graduate school years. When I landed a tenure-track job at UT-Austin, Eleanor made sure that her contacts in Austin took care of me as a newly-minted PHD. 

    I am looking forward to gathering with classmates and generations of other students, family, and friends on Friday and Saturday to mourn and to celebrate Eleanor's remarkable life. 

  • 2016-06-17 03:11:48
    Kim Knight '97

    Peace, my heart, let the time for the parting be sweet.
    Let it not be a death but completeness.
    Let love melt into memory and pain into songs.
    Let the flight through the sky end in the folding of the wings over the nest.
    Let the last touch of your hands be gentle like the flower of the night.
    Stand still, O Beautiful End, for a moment, and say your last words in silence.
    I bow to you and hold up my lamp to light your way.

    Rabindranath Tagore (1861 - 1941)


  • 2016-06-17 18:05:18
    Doug Cline "80

    First semester freshsman year I took the Imperialism seminar and discovered the wonders of Eleanor Zelliott, the professor.  I found a person who listened to you, who shared her passions for Indian food, and who always taught.  She touched the lives of many students, and we will never forget her.  It was a blessing for all of us who knew her.

    Rest in peace.

  • 2016-06-19 17:31:47
    Laurence Simon, Center for Global Development and Sustainability, Brandeis University

    Sadly I was too late immersing myself in Dalit histories and publications to have met Eleanor. But I feel I knew her through her devotion to the cause of human rights and dignity for Dalit and all who identify as oppressed. She lived a life of caring and advocating justice. Even those of us who never met her grieve.

    Laurence Simon


  • 2016-06-20 17:54:30
    Sabron R Newton

    My memories of Eleanor go back decades through common Iowa and Quaker connections.   She and my husband had Chicago and India connections.  It helped us stay in touch to have a son who graduated from Carleton and a daughter in The Cities.  We are retired in California but I have here two of her books and ten annual letters.  It was in 2008, five years after her final visit, that she announced “No more India after only 25 trips”.  I wish I could have attended both memorial services.  We will miss her emails and the packets of postcards from around the world which she periodically donated to my collection. 

  • 2016-06-26 14:11:25
    Rosemary Moore

    Chai Tea:

    2 cups of milk

    One stick of cinnamon crushed

    6 cardamom pods crushed

    6-8 whole cloves 

    2 cups of strong Lipton tea -- 3 tea bags

    3 (or less) even tablespoons of sugar


    1. Heat cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and the sugar slowly in the milk to make sure all the spices steep.  Do not boil.

    2. In a Separate pan, tea kettle, make 2 strong cups of Lipton tea

    3. Combine both liquids and continue to steep.

    4. Pour yourself a cup, lift it in the air and shout "Jai Beem"  (Dalit greeting and celebration of Dr Ambedkar whose life she studied) in honor of Eleanors amazing life and work.

    5. Enjoy!


  • 2016-07-04 16:30:34
    Richard Lee '78

    In 1976 I declared history as a major.  Prof. Carl Weiner, department chair, suggested Eleanor as my advisor.  Although I was wavering between US and Modern European History, and knew nothing of Indian history, I agreed, and my life was much the better for it.  Eleanor's distinctive, "masternaistic" (stern yet maternal) approach to advising was exactly what I needed. 

    Two days before she died, I was moving my office and came across a copy of From Untouchable to Dalit that she had signed for me at a book fair in the 1990s.  I was looking forward to seeing her at my son's graduation from Carleton last month; instead I could only go to her memorial, which was a very good memorial, and she would have loved it if only she could have been there.  A speaker at the memorial quoted her as saying in her final days that she died that she "still had work to do".  Reading the tributes above, I feel certain that Eleanor's work will continue to be done, and I hope she is pleased with the results.

  • 2016-07-07 12:18:09
    Hugh van Skyhawk

    In early spring 1985, in the after-shocks of the assassination of Indira Gandhi (October 1984), I invited Eleanor Zelliot to come to Heidelberg to take part in a seminar on the theme "Minoriites on Themselves". To my great surprize she accepted the humble invitation of this little-known PhD student, came to Heidelberg, and presented a memorable paper on:

    • "The Buddhist Literature of Modern Maharashtra," in "Minorities: on Themselves, Hugh van Skyhawk, Editor. (South Asia Digest of Regional Writing, vol. 11, 1985). South Asian Institute, Heidelberg University, 1986.

    The paper is still quoted today. Of equal value was Eleanor's unforgettable discussion with the Sikh scholar Pritam Singh, who had come from Patiala to Heidelberg to speak on the self-images of Sikhs at a time when words had to be chosen carefully and their shock waves measured accurately.

    From 1988 to 2003 we met regularly at conferences on South Asian studies, bhakti or dalit literature. Eleanor may not have always agreed with my research on Sri Sant Ekanath. But she never failed to encourage me to continue that research. 

    (The last Email I received from Eleanor must have been about two months before her passing.).

    When my academic duties led me to northern Pakistan following the death of Guenther Sontheimer at Heidelberg in June 1992, I thought that Eleanor's interest in my work would naturally dwindle over time. But I was wrong. When we met at conferences during the time of my work on the Burushaski language and spirit cults in the Karakoram (1993 to 2003) it was again Eleanor who showed genuine interest and gave genuine encouragement to my work.

    When I became professor of comparative religion of the Taxila Institute of Asian Studies (Islamabad) in 2007 I immediately began course teaching on the sources of universal ethics in the writngs of the pirs and sants of the Punjab and Sindh. In 2008 the front line of the war against the Taliban was demarcated at Islamabad itself. Amidst bomb blasts and bloodbaths that occurred not far from the campus my students read Ekanath, Tukaram, Mirabai, Baba Farid and Bulhe Shah. Eleanor followed this project with great interest and at one point wrote "God bless you, Skyhawk!"

    Truly, of all the ample praise and recognition given to my work in Islamabad between 2007 and 2014 it was Eleanor's "God bless you, Skyhawk!" that meant the most to me and touched me most deeply.

    O rare Eleanor Zelliot!

    Hugh van Skyhawk
    Senior Lecturer on Ancient Asia
    Seminar for the Science of Religion
    University of Basel
    Confoederatio Helvetica (Switzerland)

  • 2016-08-08 00:30:42
    Jayshree Singh

    I express gratitude to one of the successful liberal intellectuals who expanded her vision cross-borders to study the resilience and anguished voice of the margins, who comprised of large section as majority in within a big chunk of Indian Society. Her studies have problematised the question of retrieval of Dalits at international platform due to cosmopolitan, mulltilingual and multicultural global society that exists world over post-colonial times.Thanks to University Grants Commission, New Delhi for prescribing in syllabus of English Literary Studies to study the excerpts from her book in this context at Undergraduate Level. http://bnuniversity.ac.in/index.html http://bninstitute.org/aboutus.html http://extaxsieinelt.blogspot.in/ https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Jayshree_Singh


  • 2016-08-23 10:22:31
    Shoshana Keller `86

    I was saddened to see in the Carleton Voice I received yesterday that my teacher Eleanor Zelliot had died. I came to Carleton fixated on the Soviet Union, but as a history major took four classes with her that had profound effects on my thinking and career. In a class on ancient India she kept pointing out the peoples who had invaded from Central Asia, and I realized that region was a part of the USSR we never talked about.  I became intrigued by this large blank spot on the map, and went on to become a historian of Soviet Central Asia at a college much like Carleton (though not quite as ambitious!)  Aside from that I join the generations of students who have fond memories of her home, her generosity, her sometimes sharp but always improving commentary, and her railway tea.  I spent most of my Carleton years attending Quaker meetings, and learned spiritual as well as academic values from Eleanor that I still think about. It is awe-inspiring to see the notes here of gratitude and respect for her from all over the world.  Her memory will be for a blessing.

  • 2017-12-30 18:09:19
    Tomoko Iwai '79

    My holiday card to Eleanor came back this year. I didn't know of her passing as I didn't send a card last year because of my own mother's passing. Eleanor was my mentor at Carleton. I will not forget her support as I was finishing writing my comps, and when I tried to defend my comps. One of the professors said he didn't get the point of my thesis and while I sat there not knowing what to say, Eleanor stood up for me and defended my thesis in her very firm and convincing way. She came to visit us in Hawaii shortly after she retired from Carleton. We talked and talked over Thai food. She hadn't changed a bit. We were working on our Ph.D. which we started late, and as usual, she was proud of us and was very supportive of our endeavor. I will miss writing to her and receiving her card every year. Rest in Peace.