North American Scholar

BOAK, Arthur Edward Romilly

  • Image
  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1888-04-29
  • Born City: Halifax
  • Born State/Country: NS
  • Parents: Henry Westman, a lawyer, & Elizabeth Ballington Reid B.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1962-12-16
  • Death City: Ann Arbor
  • Death State/Country: MI
  • Married: Helen Julia Peters, 7 Sept. 1917.
  • Education:

    M.A. Queen's University (Ontario), 1907; A.M. Harvard, 1911; Ph.D., 1914; study at Berlin, 1912-4 & AAR, 1914-6.

  • Professional Experience:

    Tutor, Queen's University, 1907-10; Ictr. U. British Columbia, 1910-1; asst. prof, to prof. anc. hist., U. Michigan, 1914-58; chair dept. hist., 1930-46.

  • Dissertation:

    "The Roman Magistri: A Study in Constitutional History" (Harvard, 1914)

  • Publications:

    "The Magistri of Campania and Delos," CP 11 (1916) 25-45; "The Extraordinary Commands from 80 to 48 B.C. [etc.]," AHR 24 (1918-19) 1-25; The Master of the Offices in the Later Roman and Byzantine Empires (New York and London, 1919; rev. ed. New York 1924 in Two Studies in Later Roman and Byzantine Administration); "Greek and Coptic School Tablets at the University of Michigan," CP 16 (1921) 189-98; A History of Rome to 565 A.D. (New York, 1921, 6th ed., with William G. Sinnigen, 1977); Papyri from Tebtunis vols. I—II (Ann Arbor, 1929-1944) = Michigan Papyri, vol. II, part 2; "An Ordinance of the Salt Merchants," AJP 58 (1937)(^l0^Manpower Shortage and the Fall of Rome (Ann Arbor, 1955); The Archive of Aurelius Isidorus (with H. C. Youtie) (Ann Arbor, 1960). Over 100 articles on history and archaeology.

  • Notes:

    Boak was an expert on the later Roman and Byzantine empires, especially in their constitutional and documentary aspects. He was a pupil of William Scott Ferguson at Harvard but was also (after his doctorate) one of the last English-speaking students of Eduard Meyer in Berlin. From Meyer he accepted the theory that Caesar planned to found a divine monarchy during his final years as dictator. This is enshrined in his textbook history of Rome, which he carried through four editions. He also participated in textbooks on "western civilization" as it is taught in American universities.One of his best papers is on the history of extraordinary military commands in the late Republic. He was not only a historian but also a skilled and productive papyrologist. Probably his most important scholarly writings are in this field, for example his editions of papyri from Tebtunis and the archives of Aurelius Isidorus. He taught for over four decades at the University of Michigan, where he was known for his "copperplate lectures," as one student described them. He was personally kindly, quiet, and patient; he was also an avid bridge player and track fan, himself blowing the whistle at many events.Boak was active in the University of Michigan's explorations in Egypt, and his contributions to papyrology helped to found the great Michigan school, which was continued with scholars like Youtie, Winter, Pack, Pearl, and Koenen. He passed on his interest in the administration of the empire to his students J. E. Dunlap, who remained in the department of classics at Michigan, and W. G. Sinnigen, whose dissertation was on the office of urban prefect in the later empire. Sinnigen also saw to the 5th edition of Boak's history of Rome (in the 6th edition it changed from Boak-Sinnigen to Sinnigen-Boak).

  • Sources:

    NatCAB 49:115; WhAmA:91.

  • Author: Mortimer Chambers