I was born in Swanton, Ohio, a rural village of 2500 located 20 miles west of Toledo. My father, George, was a glassworker; my mother Jean was a homemaker and benefits secretary. Raised in the multi-ethnic factory town of Rossford (my Dad grew up conversant in five languages), my parents moved to Swanton when they were married, living the exurban dream two generations before it became fashionable. My sister, Peggy, and I enjoyed a happy childhood with all the attendant joy of being raised in America at the zenith of its prosperity.
I attended Swanton High School and then the University of Toledo, where I majored in history with a concentration on medieval Europe under the tutelage of Roger Ray. From 1976 to 1977, I studied for my Masters at Duke University, where I used the Domesday Book and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as my sources for a thesis on Anglo-Saxon resistance to the Norman Conquest. I received my doctorate in history from the University of Michigan in 1988 for a dissertation on the political environment of the German sugar industry in the 19th century. My research interest is in modern German history, with a thematic concentration on political and economic history. I am currently working on two book-length monographs: Peasants and Jews: Anti-Semitism and Rural Politics in Northwest Germany and Creating the Political Man: Diederich Hahn and the Transformation of German Politics. Since 1992, I have been employed by Miami University, with teaching responsibilities on the Hamilton campus.
While at Michigan, I had the good fortune to meet Charlene York, a student from Marquette, Michigan completing her degree in the School of Library Science. We married in 1984, and Charlene began her career as a reference librarian at Bowling Green State University while I completed my degree. In 1990, I accepted an instructorship at Ohio State University, and Charlene left her position as head of reference at BGSU for a job with the State Library of Ohio. Our daughter Anne Marie was born in the spring of 1992, one month before I accepted a tenure track position at Miami. When Anne was born at OSU hospital, über-Wolverine Charlene insisted that she not be clothed in the traditional “I’m a little Buckeye” T-shirt. Our memories vary; Charlene remembers that the nurses honored her demand, I am certain that they ignored her wishes. I rather think that I am right, as Anne will begin study at OSU in the School of Environmental and Natural Resources in the fall of 2010 with a major in soil science.