Throughout his long career, historian John Ferling has specialized in the American Revolution. He taught numerous courses on the Revolution, America’s Founders, and U. S. military history. He is the author of thirteen books, all but two of which have dealt with the American Revolution and its leaders. John and his wife, Carol, live in metropolitan Atlanta. (Photo by Catherine Hendricks)
Below is a brief autobiography statement the author wrote for this website.
My parents were from the same small town in West Virginia. My mom graduated from West Liberty State College and taught elementary school from 1929-1935, when she was forced to quit as West Virginia state law in those days prohibited a married woman from teaching in a public school.
My dad began college at West Liberty on a baseball scholarship in 1928, but when the scholarships were terminated during the Great Depression, he left school without graduating. In 1934 he went to work with Union Carbide Chemical Corporation in Charleston, West Virginia, and continued to work for the company for 40 years until his retirement in 1974.
I was born in 1940 when they were still living in Charleston. I was their only child. In 1941 my father was transferred to Texas City, Texas, across Galveston Bay from the city of Galveston, and that is where I grew up.
I graduated from Sam Houston State University with a BA degree in history in 1961. In the preface to my book Setting the World Ablaze, I explain how I became a history major and made the decision to pursue graduate studies with the hope of teaching in college and enjoying the opportunity to write. I received an MA degree in history from Baylor University in 1962.
Early on I taught in Texas, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania, but I spent most of my career at the University of West Georgia. This picture was taken in my office at UWG around 1978.
Here I am with Blackie in 2004, the year I retired from teaching after a forty year career that began with two years teaching in a high school in Orange, Texas. I went on to graduate school after those two years and spent the remainder of my career teaching in college, mostly at the University of West Georgia in Atlanta’s western exurbs.
Speaking at the 2014 Savannah Book Festival. People often ask how I became a writer. I think I was always interested in writing. When I was a kid, I devoured the sports section of the Houston Post, as much interested in the writing as in the scores. At an early age, I decided that I wanted to be a sportswriter when I grew up. In high school, I saw a movie on the rise and fall of Hitler. Left with many questions, I started reading about Hitler and soon ran into William L. Shirer’s Berlin Diary. It made me want to become a newspaper reporter. In college, I discovered good books written by good historians, and I decided that I wanted to become a historian and to write history. The rest is history.
On October 2, 2013, Governor Nathan Deal and the First Lady of Georgia presented me with the Governor’s Award for the Arts and Humanities, an award annually bestowed on individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to Georgia’s civic and cultural vitality, and who have demonstrated a lifetime commitment to work in the humanities and arts.
Sammy Grace Simon
My wife's sister gave us a kitten as a wedding present back in the day. That was my first taste of cats, but I quickly came to love them and cats have been part of our family ever since. We currently have four cats. Three were stray cats that we took in to spare them an uncertain fate.
I have been a lifelong baseball fan (the Pirates are my favorite team). The first major league game I saw was between Pittsburgh and the Brooklyn Dodgers, a game in which Jackie Robinson scored the winning run. For twenty years I timed my research trips to Boston so that the Red Sox and I were in town at the same time. Yaz hit a game-winning grand slam HR in the first game I saw at Fenway Park. One picture in the collage above shows me as a kid in the backyard in a baseball uniform. In the middle picture I am in high school and throwing a high, hard one for the Texas City Stingarees. Alas, my pitches weren’t fast enough and my baseball career ended with the Stingarees. In the top right photo, taken in 2007, I am at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. (Collage courtesy of Betty Jo Parsons)