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S. Walter Poulshock (died 1997) was an American historian and psychotherapist. As a young assistant professor at Rutgers University, he resigned his position after it was discovered that his 1965 book The Two Parties and the Tariff in the 1880s among other work was based on fabricated quotes.

Poulshock subsequently retrained as a psychotherapist, and practiced in this field, dying in 1997. The case has been described as one of the most notable examples of academic fraud in American historical research prior to the more widely publicised Arming America case.

Career as historianEdit

Poulshock studied for a PhD at the University of Pennsylvania, specialising in politics of the 1880s, and graduated in 1962.[1] He then adapted his thesis into a book, published by Syracuse University Press.[2]

Poulshock received an appointment as an assistant professor at Rutgers and the book initially received some favourable attention.[3][4] However, reviewer Jerome L. Sternstein (who wrote two articles on the case in 2002) and others came to realise that many quotes were from letters that did not exist. In addition, it emerged that Poulshock had never been to a department of the Library of Congress where he claimed to have carried out much of his research.[3]

Poulshock was reportedly challenged by a meeting of Rutgers faculty, where he confessed and agreed to leave.[3][4][5]


The book was initially withdrawn under the justification of 'technical issues'. A rush of buying copies took place as historians aware of the real facts sought to quickly buy copies for their own examination or as souvenirs before the book was withdrawn.[3]

The University of Pennsylvania declined to provide a comment on the topic to its student newspaper, leading the paper to publish both a news article and an opinion piece in April 1966 on the topic in protest.[5][6]

In July 1966 the American Historical Review stated that the book was based "confessedly in part upon evidence which does not exist, has been withdrawn as far as possible from circulation, and anyone attempting to use it should be advised of this."[7][8]

Sternstein wrote in 2002 that he was concerned that the case had not been sufficiently publicised, meaning that Poulshock's work continued to be cited by historians unaware that it was fraudulent, and it had never been removed from the shelves of many university libraries. This concern has also been raised since.[3][9] Indeed, his book and thesis have continued to be occasionally cited, as recently as 2013.[10][11][12][13][14]


Poulshock received another doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania, this time in sociology. He moved to Ohio, where he served as director of program management for the Windsor Behavioral Health Network.[15]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Poulshock, S. Walter (1962). "Pennsylvania and the Politics of the Tariff, 1880-1888". Pennsylvania History. 29 (3). Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  2. ^ Poulshock, S. Walter (1965). The two parties and the tariff in the 1880s. Syracuse University Press. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e Sternstein, Jerome. "Historical Fraud and the Seduction of Ideas: The Poulshock Case". History News Network. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  4. ^ a b Arbagi, Martin. "News from Old Friends (in RSAS Graduate Newsletter, 2015)". Rutgers University. Retrieved 5 January 2016. Many of the first generation [of PhD students] also remember the Poulshock scandal...Professor Poulshock was fired immediately. (At least one faculty member, we heard through the rumor mill, wanted him to stay on to the end of the semester so he could leave quietly during the summer, but that proposal was overridden.)
  5. ^ a b Yusem, Liz (1966). "Honor in the Ivory Tower?". The Daily Pennsylvanian. University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  6. ^ "Explanation Needed (editorial)". The Daily Pennsylvanian. University of Pennsylvania. 1966. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  7. ^ Sternstein, Jerome (2002). "Are Michael Bellesiles's Critics Afraid to Say What They Really Think?". History News Network. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  8. ^ "Historical News". The American Historical Review. July 1966. doi:10.1086/ahr/71.4.1536.
  9. ^ Luker, Ralph. "The Year When We Got Caught". History News Network. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  10. ^ Margolies, Daniel S. (2006). Henry Watterson and the new South the politics of empire, free trade, and globalization. Lexington, Ky.: University Press of Kentucky. p. 317. ISBN 9780813138527. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  11. ^ Farrar-Myers, Victoria A. (2007). Scripted for change: the institutionalization of the American presidency (1st ed.). College Station: Texas A & M University Press. p. 252. ISBN 9781603444637. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  12. ^ Sachsman, David; Bulla, David (2013). Sensationalism murder, mayhem, mudslinging, scandals, and disasters in. [S.l.]: Transaction. p. 144. ISBN 9781412851138. Retrieved 5 January 2016.
  13. ^ Skocpol, Theda (1995). Protecting soldiers and mothers the political origins of social policy in the United States. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. p. 581. ISBN 9780674043725. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  14. ^ Gregory J. Dehler (2007). Chester Alan Arthur: The Life of a Gilded Age Politician and President. Nova Publishers. p. 49. ISBN 978-1-60021-079-2.
  15. ^ "Obituaries". University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 5 January 2016.