Stanford Report Online

Eulau, pioneer in political behavior research, dead at 88


Heinz Eulau, the William Bennett Munro Professor of Political Science, Emeritus, died Jan. 18 of bone cancer at his home on campus. He was 88.

Eulau's wife, Cleo, an adjunct clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, died shortly afterward on Jan. 23 at Stanford Hospital. She was 80.

Heinz Eulau was a path-breaking scholar in the field of legislative research. He also specialized in the theory and practice of political representation and electoral behavior.

"Heinz was a real pioneer in what became the behavioral movement in political science," said Kenneth Prewitt, a professor of public affairs at Columbia University and director of the 2000 U.S. Census. Eulau was Prewitt's doctoral dissertation adviser at Stanford in the early 1960s, and they jointly authored the empirical study Labyrinths of Democracy (1973).

Until the 1950s, Prewitt explained, the field of political science focused on institutions and laws. The behavioral movement, which Eulau brought to Stanford, introduced psychology and sociology to study the linkages between political institutions and citizens. "The movement led to a blurring of the disciplines," Prewitt said.

Paul Sniderman, chair of the Department of Political Science, said Eulau also was instrumental in creating a new field of research focusing on the systematic quantitative analysis of citizens' attitudes and choices. "He made original contributions across an array of fronts, including voting behavior, the working of legislatures, social networks, institutions of political representation, the interrelation of micro and macro levels of analysis and, most broadly, to the reinforcement of a research orientation in political science committed to hypothesis testing and systematic empirical analysis," Sniderman said.

Eulau was president of the American Political Science Association from 1971 to 1972. In 1976, he helped found Legislative Studies Quarterly, a journal published at the University of Iowa. In a tribute, the journal noted Eulau's contributions to the study and understanding of legislative institutions: "He possessed an unequaled breadth of knowledge of the field, of its connections to other specialties in political science, and of its roots in history."

Eulau at Stanford

Eulau joined the Department of Political Science in 1958 and chaired it during periods of great change from 1969 to 1974, and 1981 to 1984. Teaching mostly graduate students, he influenced a generation of scholars, including Stanford political science Professors Norman Nie and John Ferejohn.

In the 1960s, Nie recalled, Eulau presided over long post-dinner discussions with his graduate students that would last into the early hours of the morning. "We called them Eulauthons," Nie said. "He really stretched himself intellectually. He gave of himself selflessly to his students."

Eulau was known for his sharp wit and wry way of looking at the world, Ferejohn said. "He was extremely meritocratic, with both the good and bad implications [of that]," he said. "If he thought you were excellent, you could do no wrong. He was very candid."

Prewitt stressed that Eulau did much more than advise and teach his students. "He showed us how to be professionals," he said. "He really shaped us, not in his image -- he didn't want disciples -- but as political scientists."

Eulau's major research projects included studies of American state legislatures between 1955 and 1961 and Bay Area city councils between 1963 and 1972, and a study of legislators' attitudes toward higher education. The first two research projects resulted in The Legislative System (1962) and Labyrinths of Democracy.

German origins

Eulau was born in Offenbach, Germany, in 1915. In 1934, as the Nazi Party consolidated power, he was sent out of the country to obtain an education, arriving in the United States in 1935. Eulau earned bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in political science from the University of California-Berkeley from 1937 to 1941.

During the war, Eulau worked at the U.S. Department of Justice as a propaganda analyst. From 1944 to 1947, he ventured into journalism as an assistant editor at The New Republic in New York but returned to academia as a faculty member at Antioch College in Ohio. In 1957, Eulau came to the Bay Area as a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. A year later, he joined the Stanford faculty.

A prolific writer, Eulau authored or co-authored many influential books, including Class and Party in the Eisenhower Years (1962); The Behavioral Persuasion in Politics (1963); Lawyers in Politics (1964); Political Science (1969); Technology and Civility (1977); The Politics of Representation (1978); Politics, Self and Society (1986) and Micro-Macro Dilemmas in Political Science (1996). In 2001, he co-authored an exhaustive, 550-page family history titled The Mishpokhe from Eulau-Jilove.

Eulau's son, Peter, recalled his father writing constantly. "I grew up listening to the typewriter," he said. In researching the family's history, Eulau was relentless in tracking down sources worldwide. "A relative who works at the Holocaust Museum in Israel said my dad discovered more about our family in three years than he had found in 15," Peter said.

Eulau retired from Stanford in 1986 but remained academically active. "You couldn't really tell he was retired; he was very engaged," Ferejohn said. "You would see him at meetings all the time."

In 1986, the American Political Science Association established the Heinz Eulau Award, which was funded in part by Eulau's former students to honor his contributions to political science. In 2002, the Heinz Eulau Political Behavior Fellowship was established on campus by the Stanford Institute for the Quantitative Study of Society, which is headed by Nie.

In 1998, Eulau turned his sardonic wit to exposing the lighter side of university life in The Politics of Academic Culture: Foibles, Fables and Facts. The book's epilogue is titled "De Mortuis Nil Nisi Bonum, or Better Write Your Own Obituary Before It Is Too Late." Eulau ends the book with his own obituary:

Heinz Eulau, Political Behavioralist, Dies at 100

The premature death, at 100, of Professor Heinz Eulau, a political science savant of German and Jewish origin but trained in the 1930s at the University of California, Berkeley, was a real shocker to his many friends and enemies, especially his former Stanford graduate students, whom he had persuaded to stop smoking, after himself giving up his beloved pipes; though, indefatigable sinner that he was, he stuck to at least one "Tanqueray-on-the-rocks-with-a-twist" (and sometimes making it a double) per day. Eulau, according to Professor Emeritus John Sprague of Washington University, himself the experienced practitioner of a spirited life style, was an indefatigable proponent of what is the simplest and most parsimonious in both the theory and practice of politics. His devotion to the veridicality of the holistic theories of state sovereignty and of the individualistic theories of rational choice will remain legendary.

Eulau is survived by his brother, Frank, of Terrytown, N.Y.; his son, Peter, and daughter, Lauren Eulau, of Portland, Ore.; and three grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in the Eulaus' memory be made to the Cleo Eulau Center for Children and Adolescents, 415 Cambridge Ave., Suite 21, Palo Alto, CA 94306. A celebration of the lives of Heinz and Cleo Eulau is being planned on campus. For more details, call (650) 328-2380.

Heinz Eulau