The Carter G. Woodson Institute, U.Va.

The Carter G. Woodson Institute

for African-American and African Studies at the University of Virginia

In Remembrance: Reginald D. Butler, 1944 - 2019


In Remembrance: Reginald Butler, 1944 - 2019 

I am deeply saddened to report that Reginald Butler, Director of the Carter G. Woodson Institute from 1996 to 2005, passed away on July 5th after a long illness. Reginald, who also taught in the History department, was a scholar of early African American history.  A quiet, thoughtful man, Reginald was a dedicated teacher who mentored dozens of students and steered many into graduate studies through the Institute’s Emerging Scholars Program, which he founded.  

Appointed director of the Institute the year after Armstead Robinson, its founding director, passed away, Reginald brought creative energy and expansive purpose to the position.  He established and oversaw many significant initiatives during his tenure at Woodson, including the Center for the Study of Local Knowledge, supported by a generous, multi-year grant from the Ford Foundation. He also conducted the Chesapeake Regional Seminar in Black Studies, a collaboration with faculty at a number of Historically Black Colleges and Universities, along with other institutions in the region, organizing workshops and seminars focused on new directions in research and teaching of African-American studies. He convened and coordinated the Central Virginia Social History Project, a group of area scholars examining race and ethnicity in central Virginia from the 17th to the early 20th century. Reginald worked with faculty and staff members across the university on the initial archaeological research that led eventually to the Katherine Foster Memorial, now installed at the South Lawn. The Woodson Institute owes Reginald a debt of gratitude for his long years of service and leadership.  He will be sorely missed, but his work and influence live on in the students he taught and mentored and whose lives he deeply touched. Kirt von Daake, current Association Dean in the College, was one of those students, who wrote, “He pushed me hard, held me to incredible high standards, but supported me at every step.  His voice has guided me my entire career.”

A memorial service is being planned for September 14th in Goochland County, where Reginald spent the summers of his formative years. Details will be posted on a Facebook Page created in his honor "Celebrating the Life of Reginald D. Butler."

Reginald Butler obituary in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, published July 17, 2019.