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Robert Vance Bruce
File:Robert vance bruce.jpg
Born (1923-12-19)December 19, 1923
Malden, Massachusetts
Died January 15, 2008(2008-01-15) (aged 84)
Olympia, Washington
Citizenship United States
Alma mater University of New Hampshire (B.S.)
Boston University (Master of Arts, PhD.)
Awards Guggenheim Fellow (1957)
Huntington Library Fellow (1966)
President of the Lincoln Group of Boston (1969–74)
Fellow of the Society of American Historians (1974)
R. Gerald McMurtry Lecturer on Abraham Lincoln (1981)
Pulitzer Prize for History (1988)
Fortenbaugh Lecturer at Gettysburg College (1989)

Robert Vance Bruce (December 19, 1923 – January 15, 2008)[1][6] was an American historian specializing in the American Civil War who won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1988 for his book The Launching of Modern American Science, 1846–1876.[5] After serving in the Army during World War II, Bruce graduated from the University of New Hampshire, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering. He received his Master of Arts in history and his Doctor of Philosophy from Boston University, where he was later a professor.[3][4][6] He also taught at the University of Bridgeport, Lawrence Academy at Groton, and the University of Wisconsin.[6] Bruce was also a lecturer at the Fortenbaugh Lecture at Gettysburg College.[7]

Plagiarism controversy

In April 1998, Bruce accused Scottish historian James A. Mackay of plagiarizing his book Bell: Alexander Graham Bell and The Conquest of Solitude, even as Mackay acknowledged Bruce on page 12 of his book.[3][8] Accusations also appeared in the review of Mackay's book by The Washington Post.[9] By Bruce's own count, 285 pages of Mackay's 297-page book Alexander Graham Bell: A Life contained plagiarisms from his book, including Mackay's acknowledging the National Geographic Society and other organizations that had not heard of Mackay. Eventually, John Wiley & Sons took the book out of print and destroyed any remaining copies at Mackay's expense in exchange for Bruce's promise not to sue.[10] Mackay also later apologized to Bruce.[11] The American Historical Association later found that Mackay had violated its Statement on Standards of Professional Conduct.[12]


Bruce wrote multiple works:[1]

  • 1877: Year of Violence (1959) (ISBN 978-0929587059)
  • Alexander Graham Bell: Teacher of the Deaf (1974)
  • Bell: Alexander Graham Bell and The Conquest of Solitude (1973) (ISBN 9780316112512)
  • Lincoln, The War President: The Gettysburg Lectures (1992) (with Gabor Boritt) (ISBN 9780195078916)
  • Lincoln and The Riddle of Death (1981)
  • Lincoln and The Tools of War (1956) (ISBN 978-0252060908)
  • The Historian's Lincoln: Rebuttals: What the University Press Would Not Print (1988) (with Gabor Boritt) (ISBN 978-9999161466)
  • The Launching of Modern American Science, 1846–1876 (1987) (ISBN 9780394553948) (Pulitzer Prize for History winner)[5]
  • The Shadow of A Coming War (1989)
  • Two Roads to Plenty: An Analysis of American History (1964)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Bruce, Robert V. (WorldCat Identities)". OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. 2010. Retrieved 2011-09-23. 
  2. "Obituary Daily Times Results: robert vance bruce". Obituary Times. RootsWeb. Retrieved 2011-09-24. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Blumenthal, Ralph; Sarah Lyall (September 21, 1999). "Repeat Accusations Of Plagiarism Taint Prolific Biographer". Retrieved 2011-09-23. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Mazzari, Louis (2000). "Literary Sleuthing". University of New Hampshire Alumni Association. Retrieved 2011-09-23. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "The Pulitzer Prizes - History". The Pulitzer Prizes. September 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-23. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Funeral Alternatives of Washington, Inc. (2011). "Funeral Alternatives of Washington - Planning & Services". Funeral Alternatives of Washington, Inc.. Retrieved 2011-09-24. 
  7. "Gettysburg College - Past Fortenbaugh Speakers". Gettysburg College. 2010. Retrieved 2011-09-23. 
  8. Carvajal, Doreen (June 22, 1998). "Media Talk; Pulitzer-Winning Writer Cries Foul Over a Bell Biography". Retrieved 2011-09-23. 
  9. Shulevitz, Judith (June 11, 1998). "The Bell Curve". Retrieved 2011-09-23. 
  10. Bruce, Robert V. (July 8, 2002). "Scotching Plagiarism". History News Network. Retrieved 2011-09-23. 
  11. Curran, Jeanne; Takata, Susan R. (1999-09-21). "Plagiarism: A Case of Not Avoiding It". California State University, Dominguez Hills. Retrieved 2011-09-24. 
  12. American Historical Association (March 2001). "Council Decides on Complaint Filed with the Professional Division". American Historical Association. 

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