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Gillis, John

ImageJohn R. Gillis

Professor Emeritus of History

Ph.D., Stanford University

B.A. Amherst College

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My work has been largely in social and cultural history, covering a variety of periods, subjects, and geographical areas. I began as a German historian and moved to British history, becoming interested in age relations, marriage, memory, and family cultures. Over time, my work has become more global, employing the insights of cultural geography as well as environmental history. In 2004 I published Islands of the Mind, a study of the place of the insular in western culture. Now I have published The Human Shore: Seacoasts in History with University of Chicago Press. It is a global environmental history of coasts and coastal peoples from prehistory to the present, making the case that they have been a neglected past which must be recovered if the shore is to have a sustainable future. Since retiring from Rutgers, I have been living in Berkeley, Caiifornia, spending summers on a small island (Great Gott Island) in the Gulf of Maine. For more on my post-Rutgers doings, google "John R Gillis."


  • The Human Shore: Seacoasts in History (Chicago, 2012)
  • Islands of the Mind: How the Human Imagination Created the Atlantic World (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004)
  • The Prussian Bureacuracy in Crisis, 1840-60 (Stanford, 1971)
  • Youth and History: Tradition and Change in European Age Relations, 1750-Present (Academic, 1975)
  • Development of European Society, 1770-1870 (Houghton Mifflin, 1977)
  • For Better, For Worse: British Marriages, 1600 to the present (Oxford, 1985)
  • A World of Their Own Making: Myth, Ritual, and the Quest for Family Values (Basic, 1996)

Books Editied

  • Becoming Historians, with James Banner (Chicago, 2009)
  • The Militarization of the Western World (Rutgers, 1989)
  • The European Experience of Declining Fertility, with D. Levine and L. Tilly (Blackwell, 1992)
  • Commemorations: The Politics of National Identity (Princeton, 1996)


  • Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 1988
  • Fellow, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, 1993-4
  • Fellow, Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study in the Social Sciences, 2001


  • American Association of University Professors
  • American Historical Association
  • World History Association
  • Council on Contemporary Families (former national co-chair)

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