Biography of Paul Boyer

Paul Boyer was born in 1935 and grew up in Dayton, Ohio. As a young man raised as a Mennonite, he was a conscientious objector and served for two years in UNESCO’s International Voluntary Work Camps. He received his AB, MA, and PhD from Harvard.

In 1967 he became a professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, then moved to UW-Madison, where he remained until he retired from teaching in 2002. He died at age 76 from cancer. He published numerous works, but his most influential were Salem Possessed (1974), Urban Masses and Moral Order in America, 1820-1920 (1978), By the Bomb’s Early Light: American Thought and Culture at the Dawn of the Atomic Age (1985), and Fallout: A Historian Reflects on America's Half-Century Encounter With Nuclear Weapons (1998). Boyer and his co-author of Salem Possessed also collaborated on a three-volume set of the Salem Witchcraft Papers. Boyer received numerous honors and accolades, including Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships; election to the American Antiquarian Society, the Society of American Historians, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and visiting appointments at UCLA, Northwestern, SUNY-Plattsburgh, and the College of William & Mary. He was the chair of the Program Committee of the Organization of American Historians and was on the Journal of American History's board of editors. He also directed UW–Madison's Institute for Research in the Humanities.

Study Guides on Works by Paul Boyer

Historians Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum’s Salem Possessed was published in 1974 to great acclaim; it is considered a landmark work of social history and a core part of the extensive body of work on the Salem Witch Trials. They root the...