Bremer, Francis J(ohn) 1947–
BREMER, Francis J(ohn) 1947–
PERSONAL: Born January 26, 1947, in New York, NY; son of Francis J. (an accountant) and Marie (Degeilh) Bremer; married Barbara Woodlock, August 24, 1968; children: Heather Jeanne, Kristin Lynn, Megan Elayne. Education: Fordham University, B.A., 1968; Columbia University, M.A., 1969, Ph.D., 1972.
ADDRESSES: Home—2225 Coventry Rd., Lancaster, PA 17601. Office—Department of History, Millersville State College, Millersville, PA 17551.
CAREER: Fordham College—Rose Hill, New York, NY, adjunct instructor, 1969–70; Richmond College, City University of New York, lecturer, 1970–71; Thomas More College, Fort Mitchell, KY, instructor, 1971–72, assistant professor, 1972–74, associate professor of history and director of humanities enrichment program, 1974–77; Millersville State College, Millersville, PA, associate professor, 1977–1980; professor of history, 1980–; chairman of department, 2003. Visiting fellow at New York University, Cambridge University, and other universities. Member, Pennsylvania State Coordinating Committee for National History Day. Council member, Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, 2001.
MEMBER: Institute of Early American History and Culture (associate), American Association of University Professors, Organization of American Historians, Columbia University Seminar for Early American History, Colonial Society of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Historical Society.
AWARDS, HONORS: Woodrow Wilson fellow, 1971; National Endowment for the Humanities fellow, 1975; American Philosophical Society fellow, 1978; American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, 1980; Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Academic Service Award, 1981; Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Distinguished Faculty Award, 1983; State System of Higher Education Faculty Development Grant, 1990, 1994, 1997; Fulbright fellow, 1991; fellow of David and Mary Eccles Center for American Studies of the British Library, 1991; Winthrop Fellowship, Massachusetts Historical Society, 1994; National Endowment for Humanities grant, 1994; Walter Muir Whitehill Prize, Colonial Society of Massachusetts, 1997; State System of Higher Education Inter-Institutional Grant, 1999; CAPE Incentive Grant for Technological Innovation in Education, 1999.
(Editor, with Alden T. Vaughan) Puritan New England: Essays on Religion, Society, and Culture, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1977.
(With G. Terry Madonna) Pennsbury Manor: The American Home of William Penn, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (Harrisburg, PA), 1980.
(Editor) Anne Hutchinson, Troubler of the Puritan Zion, Robert E. Krieger (Huntington, NY), 1981.
Puritan Crisis: New England and the English Civil Wars, 1630–1670, Garland (New York), 1989.
(Editor, with Dennis B. Downey) A Guide to the History of Pennsylvania, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1993.
(Editor) Puritanism: Transatlantic Perspectives on a Seventeenth-Century Anglo-American Faith, Massachusetts Historical Society (Boston, MA), 1993.
Congregational Communion: Clerical Friendship in the Anglo-American Puritan Community, 1610–1692, Northeastern University Press (Boston, MA), 1994.
Shaping New Englands: Puritan Clergyman in Seventeenth-Century England and New England, Twayne (New York, NY), 1994.
(Editor, with Lynn Botelho) The Worlds of John Winthrop: England and New England, 1588–1649, University Press of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA), 2005.
(Editor, with Tom Webster) Puritans and Puritanism in Europe and America: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia, ABC-CLIO (Santa Barbara, CA), 2006.
General editor of the "Winthrop Papers," Massachusetts Historical Society. Contributor to books and periodicals, including Historical Journal, History Today, and Journal of American Studies.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Editing The Seven Treatises, by Richard Rogers, with Susan Ortmann; editing Robert Keayne's Sermon Notebooks, with Sargent Bush, Jr.
SIDELIGHTS: Francis J. Bremer is a historian with a particular knowledge of Puritans and Puritanism in England and North America. The Puritans, who are known best as the founders of New England, were a group of Protestant religious dissenters who felt that the Church of England was too corrupted to reform. Their stance put them at odds with King James, and eventually led to their emigration on the Mayflower and the subsequent founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Their leader was John Winthrop, and Bremer's biography John Winthrop: America's Forgotten Founding Father has won praise from many reviewers as a thoroughly-researched work that shows the human side of a frequently-misunderstood man. It begins with the baptism of Winthrop's grandfather in the year 1498, and traces the family history through 1999, with a story of a Winthrop descendant's visit to the ancestral home in 1999. The first third of the book gives background on Winthrop's grandfather, father, and uncles; the next section covers Winthrop's youth, education, and early adult life in England; while the last third covers his part in the foundation of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
While the Puritans are generally thought of as strict and repressive, Winthrop's biography shows him to be among the more compassionate and flexible of their leaders. Woody West, a reviewer for the Washington Times, stated: "Mr. Bremer's biography is rich in insights and detail. He has written a memorable account of a good man." Not only Winthrop himself, but also the political and religious movements of his time are "vividly" recreated, in the estimation of a Publishers Weekly writer. Bremer's "exhaustive" research was commended by Dale Farris in Library Journal, as is the author's "keen concentration on interpreting Winthrop's actions by reference to his English heritage." Gilbert Taylor summarized in Booklist: "Bremer's diligently researched work is the definitive landmark study of its subject."
Bremer told CA: "My interest in history originated with a sense of enjoyment experienced from reading historical works and visiting historical restorations in New England while a youth. History has remained fun. My concern with the Puritan past derives from an interest in the relationship between values and behavior and a belief that the communal social philosophy of the early New Englanders offers a contrast to contemporary norms which can insight into our society and its problems. I see my writing as an extension of my teaching, offering an opportunity to develop certain themes at greater length and a chance to communicate with (hopefully) a larger audience.
"I am currently very interested in pursuing insights from anthropology and psychology into the non-rational bases of attitudes and beliefs held by the men and women of the seventeenth century. In particular, I am trying to assess the scope of some correspondence networks in the Anglo-American community and the ways in which individuals were influenced towards the adoption of certain views by social forces such as friendship. It is my belief that intellectual historians must make a greater effort to relate the acceptance of ideas to the social milieu in which men lived. I believe that anthropological network theory and psychological studies on attraction and attitude formation may enable historians to move into these new areas."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Historical Review, December, 1995, Gerald McDermott, review of Puritanism: Transatlantic Perspectives on a Seventeenth-Century Anglo-American Faith, p. 1663; February, 1996, Charles Hambrick-Stowe, review of Congregational Communion: Clerical Friendship in the Anglo-American Puritan Community, 1610–1692, p. 152.
Booklist, June 1, 2003, Gilbert Taylor, review of John Winthrop: America's Forgotten Founding Father, p. 1733.
First Things, February, 2004, Mark Noll, "Founding Fathers?," review of John Winthrop, p. 38.
Journal of Ecclesiastical History, January, 2005, Ivan Roots, review of John Winthrop, p. 178.
Library Journal, June 15, 2003, Dale Farris, review of John Winthrop, p. 80.
New York Times, September 21, 2003, Caleb Crain, review of John Winthrop, p. 11.
Publishers Weekly, May 19, 2003, review of John Winthrop, p. 62.
Washington Times, July 6, 2003, Woody West, review of John Winthrop, p. B8.