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Historian Oliver Perry Chitwood (November 28, 1874-February 3, 1971) was born in Franklin County, Virginia. He earned an A.B. degree at William and Mary College and was librarian there from 1898 to 1899. In 1902–03, he was headmaster of Richmond Academy, and in 1904–05, he was a fellow in history at Johns Hopkins University. After completing a Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins in 1905, Chitwood briefly was professor of history and economics at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. In 1907, he became professor of history at West Virginia University.

During nearly 40 years at WVU, Chitwood established his reputation as an authority on American colonial history. His History of Colonial America (1931) was for years a leading college textbook in that field. With co-authors, Chitwood wrote A Short History of the American People, a two-volume textbook (1945, 1948, and later) in American history. Among his other works was John Tyler, Champion of the Old South (1939), a biography of the Virginian who served as president of the United States from 1841 to 1845. Publication of this book was sponsored by the American Historical Association.

The long-lived Chitwood stated during the election of 1960 that he had voted in 16 presidential elections and expected to do so again. He playfully explained that when he was in the voting booth with no one else but God, his conscience required him to vote for the Democratic candidates.

This Article was written by Otis K. Rice

Last Revised on October 04, 2012

Cite This Article

Rice, Otis K. "Oliver Perry Chitwood." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 04 October 2012. Web. 19 April 2024.


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