Chauncy H. Winters Professor of History (Ph.D. Princeton University)

[Phone] (518) 388-6223
[Fax] (518) 388-6422
wellsr@union.edu

Teaching and Research Interests

Teaching: American history-colonial, Revolution, Constitution, demographic trends and influences, death in American culture, folk songs and American history,–quantitative history, world history before 1700CE.
Research: American demographic history (death in America); folk songs and history.

Selected Publications

Facing the ‘King of Terrors’: Death and Society in an American Community, 1750-1990
by Robert V. Wells
Cambridge University Press
December 1999
Facing the “King of Terrors” examines changes in the roles and perceptions of death in one American community, Schenectady, New York, from 1750 to 1990. A remarkably thorough study, this work incorporates a wide variety of topics, including causes of death, epidemics and the reactions they engendered, rituals surrounding dying and burial, cemeteries and grave markers, public celebrations of the deaths of important figures, reactions to war, and businesses that profited from death. Combining an in-depth look at patterns of death in society as a whole with an investigation of personal responses to such cultural customs, the book makes use of personal letters and diaries to explore how broader social changes were manifested in the lives of individuals.
A Retrospective Bibliography of American Demographic History from Colonial Times to 1983, Vol. 10
byDavid R. Gerhan (Compiler), Robert V. Wells (Editor)
Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated
February 1989
This bibliography is the first comprehensive guide to the entire field of Amerian demographic history. It contains over 3,800 citations of published materials on all aspects of the subject, including marriage and fertility, family and societal values, and the interactions of population with economics, politics, and society. Each section is introduced with a substantial bibliographic essay highlighting the chief works, the contours of the field, and the directions it appears to be taking.
Revolutions in Americans’ Lives: A Demographic Perspective on the History of Americans, Their Families, and Their Society, Vol. 6
by Robert V. Wells
Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated
May 1982
An interpretation of American history from a demographic perspective. It examines three periods (before 1775, 1775-1920, 1920-present) via individual experiences with birth, death, marriage, and immigration; how these affected families; and how social, economic, and political patterns were influenced.
Uncle Sam’s Family: Issues and Perspectives on American Demographic History
by Robert V. Wells State University of New York Press
June 1985
This work introduces readers to the basics of demographic history, touching on issues of interest to anyone concerned with understanding how we have come to live as we do and what the future may bring. It also focuses directly on matters of birth, death, and migration. Uncle Sam’s Family shows readers whey historians, and others, have become interested in these topics, how they are studied, and what are some of the most intriguing recent findings. This is done in non-technical language, with a number of figures and tables designed and selected to make the material easy to understand.
New Opportunities in a New Nation: The Development of New York after the Revolution
by Manfred Jonas (Editor), Robert V. Wells (Editor)
Union College Press
January 1983
A collection of essays on New York in the 1790’s tracing patterns of growth and development.
Population of the British Colonies in America before 1776: A Survey of Census Data
by Robert V. Wells
Princeton University Press
December 1975
This is a survey of the population of Britain’s colonies in America, including Canada and the Caribbean, based on some 135 censes taken before 1776. Topics discussed include: size and growth; age, sex, and racial composition; and family, and households.