North American Scholar

WELLES, Charles Bradford

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1901-08-09
  • Born City: Saybrook
  • Born State/Country: CT
  • Parents: Charles Thomas, a banker, & Edith Wilder Smith W.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1969-10-08
  • Death City: New Haven
  • Death State/Country: CT
  • Married: Eleanor Bogert, 23 Oct. 1926.
  • Education:

    B.A. Yale, 1924; Ph.D. 1928.

  • Professional Experience:

    Instr. class. Yale, 1927-31; asst. prof, to prof. anc. hist., 1931-69; pres. APA, 1956-7; pres. American Society of Papyrologists, 1961.

  • Dissertation:

    "The Vocabulary of the Hellenistic Royal Letters" (Yale, 1928); printed as Royal Correspondence in the Hellenistic Period: A Study in Greek Epigraphy (New Haven & Prague, 1934; repr. Rome, 1966; Chicago, 1974).

  • Publications:

    "A Yale Fragment of the Acts of Appian," TAPA 67 (1936) 7-23; "The Inscriptions" in Gerasa: City of the Decapolis, ed. Carl Hermann Kraeling (New Haven, 1938), 335-616; "Fragments of Herodotus and Appian from Dura," TAPA 70 (1939) 203-12; "The Gardens of Ptolemagrius at Panopolis," TAPA 11 (1946) 192-206; The Parchments and Papyri, The Excavations at Dura-Europos Final Report, 5, pt. 1, with R. O. Fink and J. Frank Gilliam (New Haven, 1959); Diodorus Siculus vol. VIII, Books XVI, 66-XVII (trans.), LCL (Cambridge & London, 1963); "Isocrates' View of History," Studies Caplan, 3-25; Yale Papyri in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, vol. I, ed. with J. F. Oates & A. E. Samuel (New Haven, 1967); "Hesiod's Attitude toward Labor," GRBS 8 (1967) 5-23; Alexander and the Hellenistic World (Toronto, 1970).Festschrift: Essays in Honor of C. Bradford Welles, ASPap 1 (New Haven, 1966); bibliography by Kent Rigsby, ix-xxii.

  • Notes:

    Brad Welles' life was changed by the arrival of Michael Rostovtzeff at Yale in 1925 while Welles was writing his dissertation as a philological analysis of the chancery letters of the Hellenistic kings with an appendix and notes on historical matters. Rostovtzeff persuaded him to reverse his emphasis and thus produce Royal Correspondence in the Hellenistic Period, which remains an essential scholarly tool and one of the great epigraphical and historical studies of this century. Welles continued to work with Rostovtzeff at Yale through the 1930s, particularly with Dura-Europos material and on the Social and Economic History of the Hellenistic World. At the same time Welles was establishing himself as a scholar of international stature with his work in epigraphy, papyrology, and ancient history. In 1942 Welles began what was virtually a second career of military service. He rose to command the counterintelligence unit of the OSS in Cairo during World War II. After a brief return to Yale he again served in Army Intelligence from 1950 to 1953. In the latter year he returned to Yale, where he had been professor of ancient history since 1941 and remained until his death. In the last phase of his career, Welles produced his editions, with colleagues, of the Dura and Yale papyri, supervised the Dura enterprise, and laid the basis for the future of papyrological research in the United States. For this last he was instrumental in founding the American Society of Papyrologists in 1961 and initiating a series of summer seminars in papyrology which helped train many of those Americans now most active in the field. He was honored for this work by a volume published as the inaugural number of American Studies in Papyrology. In the final phase of his career Welles particularly enjoyed his work with graduate students and young colleagues. A caring, generous, and exacting director, he supervised a great number of dissertations, most in papyrology and epigraphy, but many as well ranging widely over the whole field of classical history, religion, and literature. He inspired great affection and loyalty from his graduate students and from his young colleagues, for whom he continued to be an active mentor. He trained a good number of scholars who are and have been major contributors to scholarship and the profession.

  • Sources:

    NatCAB 62:127; NYTimes (9 Oct. 1969) 47; Robin W. Winks, Cloak & Gown: Scholars in the Secret War 1939-1961 (New York, 1987).

  • Author: John F. Oates