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Cliff Kuhn, local historian who gathered Atlantans' tales and stories, has died

Georgia State University professor was familiar to WABE listeners, local history buffs

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? Cliff Kuhn, the well-known Atlanta historian who was a living encyclopedia in a city quick to forget its past, died on Sunday. He was 63. Kuhn, an avid bicyclist who pedaled nearly every day to Georgia State University, where he worked as an associate professor, died of a heart attack. 
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? WABE listeners might know Kuhn's name, voice, and insight from his regular appearances on "Morning Edition," where he discussed important events and overlooked episodes in the city's and state's history. A dedicated and passionate lover of history, Kuhn would lead regular tours through Downtown to revisit Atlanta's 1906 Race Riots. He also played a substantial role in helping plan the National Center for Civil and Human Rights as co-chair of the content committee.
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? "Cliff Kuhn was truly a historian for the people," Michelle Brattain, chair of the Department of History, said in a statement. "He possessed an incredible wealth of knowledge, a boundless intellectual curiosity, and a gift for communicating the wonder and complexity of history to all audiences, from university students, to his listeners on WABE, to elementary school students. At Georgia State, he was a popular teacher, dedicated graduate mentor, and generous colleague, who was uniquely committed to scholarship and public service."
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? Doug Shipman, the executive director who launched NCCHR, says Kuhn joined the effort early in its inception. In addition to helping center supporters decide its message and story, he helped identify key individuals and gather oral histories.   
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? "Literally, his words are on the wall," Shipman says. "He helped craft the script that is on panels as you walk through. From the broader ideas to the very words on the wall, he infuses the place."
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? Kuhn, who helped coordinate the centennial commemoration of the race riots, earned his Ph.D in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1993. He started as an assistant professor at Georgia State the following year. Kuhn's speciality was in oral history and 20th Century Southern history, and he was actively involved in the Oral History Association. The professor served as its first executive director when the organization moved its executive offices to GSU in 2013. 
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? In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Kuhn worked as a producer with E. Bernard West and Harlon Joye on WRFG's "Living Atlanta," a celebrated oral history series that compiled memories about life in the city from 1914 to 1948 from famous (Martin Luther King, Sr. and educator Benjamin Mays) and everyday (M.Y. "Pete Rutherford, a streetcar operator turned Atlanta police officer) residents. He also played a role in the award-winning "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" radio series. 
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? "He was a great champion of history from the common person’s contribution," says Shipman, who says Kuhn pushed NCCHR leaders to seek out the lesser-known men and women of the Civil Rights Movement. "I think it’s special and one of his great legacies."
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? "Cliff Kuhn served this university and the Atlanta community with passion and commitment for decades," said William Long, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "He was simply irreplaceable, and all who knew him will miss him and cherish his legacy."
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? Kuhn's talks with Steve Goss on WABE are available on the station's website. Here's a touching remembrance of the professor by his friend and colleague Alex Sayf Cummings
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? The post will be updated as new information becomes available.
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