USC Professor Kevin Starr. Photo courtesy USC
USC Professor Kevin Starr. Photo courtesy USC

California history is dead with the passing of ex-state librarian Kevin Starr.

Starr, a USC professor, former state librarian and author of numerous political and cultural history works related to California, died Saturday at age 76.

“He was the greatest historian Los Angeles and California ever had and ever will have,” former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan said.

Starr died at a hospital in San Francisco, his wife of 53 years, Sheila Starr told the Los Angeles Times.

Starr tracked California’s rise to prominence in his series of books, “Americans and the California Dream,” which start in the 19th Century, move into the Progressive Era, the Roaring 20s, Great Depression and pre-war years.

In his work, Starr displayed his knowledge of the state’s resources and industries — including architecture, agriculture, literature, water and the entertainment industry.

Starr graduated from the University of San Francisco in 1962 and earned his Ph.D. in American literature in 1969 at Harvard University. He later became a professor of history and policy planning and development at USC.

Starr was named state librarian in 1994 and retired from that position in 2004. He was named state librarian emeritus by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Starr is survived by his wife, two daughters, Jessica Starr and Marian Starr Imperatore and seven grandchildren.

–City News Service

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