Pim Kooij

ICHT member (Nederland), 1995 – 2016

Dordrecht 1945 – Groningen 2016


Early August we received the sad news that our eminent Dutch colleague prof. dr. Pim Kooij had suddenly passed away, just a few years after his retirement, at the age of 71.

Pim has, in his career, always been an enthusiastic initiator and organizer. He was one of the scholars who played a crucial role in the growth and professionalization of the European Urban History Association and he acted as a secretary from 1996 until 2008.

Already in the 1970s he and Herman Diederiks were one of the most active advocates of urban history in The Netherlands, promoting urban history as a method of integrated socio-economic history with the search for spatial patterns at its very core. In the late 1980s, he was one of the initiators of the Dutch Working Group on Urban History, published an influential monograph on the modernization of Groningen in the late nineteenth century as well as a concise introduction to the field, and became the first professor in urban history in The Netherlands.

At the first conferences of the European Association for Urban History in the early nineties, he presented work on urban demography, health care and labour market. So when in 1995 Herman Diederiks, secretary and co-founder  of the association, suddenly died, Pim was invited to succeed him in the international committee, where he acted as secretary for seven conferences: Budapest, Venice, Berlin, Edinburgh, Athens, Stockholm and Lyon.

Just as with his many administrative functions in The Netherlands, Pim’s work for the association has always been characterised by his great engagement, a good deal of pragmatism and diplomatic skills, an outspoken view on what is and what is not urban history, and at the same time a highly jovial spirit. At the conferences he was always keen to spot young talents, to encourage them and to help them to find a platform. And beyond the conferences he never forgot to visit the local zoo: one of his special passions, that strongly related to his later research on green space.

An older generation of urban historians has lost a friend. A younger generation has lost an exemplary person that helped to build the European Association as it is now, and upon whose example we can together build further.

We deeply honour his memory and thank him for everything he has done to make our association grow and prosper.

Manon van der Heijden (Leiden) and Jan Hein Furnée (Nijmegen)

(Obituary presented by Jan Hein Furnée during the General Assembly of the European Association for Urban History in Helsinki, 24.8.2016 and by Marc Boone during the General Assembly, Kiel University, 16.9.2016)