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Paul Boyer (historian)

Paul Samuel Boyer (August 2, 1935[1]–March 17, 2012[2][3]) was a U.S. cultural and intellectual historian (Ph.D., Harvard University, 1966) and Merle Curti Professor of History Emeritus and former director (1993–2001) of the Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He had held visiting professorships at UCLA, Northwestern University, and William & Mary; had received Guggenheim Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships; and was an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Society of American Historians, and the American Antiquarian Society.


Boyer was born in 1935 in Dayton, Ohio to Clarence and Ethel Boyer; he had two older brothers, Ernest L. Boyer and William Boyer. The family was active in the Brethren in Christ Church, an offshoot of the Mennonites.[3][4] In 1962 he married Ann Talbot, of Baltimore, Md. He earned his Doctorate in American History from Harvard University. Before being invited to the University of Wisconsin in 1980, he taught at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst from 1967 to 1980.[5] After his retirement, he became an editor at U.W. Press and a co-author of several college textbooks.[6] Paul Samuel Boyer died at Agrace Hospicecare on March 17, 2012, after three months battle with cancer.[7]


Boyer, who grew up in a conservative Christian family, was a pacifist and conscientious objector.[8][9] He specialized in the religious and moral history of the American people from the days of the Salem Witch Trials in the 1690s, through the Protestant efforts to reform society in the 19th and early 20th centuries to the impact of nuclear weapons on the American psyche after World War II.

Selected publicationsEdit


  1. ^ "Corrections: April 3". The New York Times. April 2, 2012.
  2. ^ Brooks, S., "Paul Boyer, influential scholar of religious history, dies", The Daily Cardinal, Mar 26, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Vitello, Paul. Paul S. Boyer, 78, Dies; Historian Studied A-Bomb and Witches, New York Times. April 2, 2012.
  4. ^ Goodman, Bonnie. "History Doyen: Paul Samuel Boyer," History News Network,2 Sep. 2007. Retrieved 3 Aug. 2019.
  5. ^ "Boyer, Paul S.", obituary by in, 25 March 2012.
  6. ^ History Doyen: Paul Samuel Boyer History News Network Webseite. 30 Jul. 2019.
  8. ^ Cohen, Charles L. "PAUL BOYER (1935–2012)" (obituary), Perspectives on History, the newsmagazine of the American Historical Society, 1 May 2012. Retrieved 3 Aug. 2019.
  9. ^ Helsey, Mary Jane. Peace and Persistence: Tracing the Brethre in Christ Peace Witness Through Three Generations, Kent State University Press, 2003, p. 132.