PASADENA— Eleanor M. Searle, Edie and Lew Wasserman Professor of History, Emeritus, died Tuesday, April 6. She was 72.
Searle held the distinction of being the first woman at the Institute to receive a named professorship, to which she was appointed in 1988. She joined the Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences at Caltech in 1979, after serving as a member of the faculty at UCLA for the previous 10 years.
A scholar in medieval history, Searle was the first woman to study at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies in Toronto, where she received her DMS degree (Doctor Mediaevorum Studiorum) in 1972 and an honorary DLit in 1993. She earned a BA, magna cum laude, from Radcliffe College, Harvard University, in 1948. She had been a visiting fellow at Cambridge University and a fellow at the Australian National University's Research School of Social Sciences. She also had been a senior research associate at the Huntington Library since 1959.
Searle was a fellow of the Medieval Academy of America, and served as its president in 1985–86. She was also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and of the Society of Antiquaries of London, and was honorary vice president of the Battle and District Historical Society. She was the author of four books on medieval subjects.
She is survived by her husband, Leonard. A memorial service is being planned.