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Professor John B. boles has been with Rice University since 1981, serving as The Allyn R. and Gladys M. Cline Chair in History from 1991-1997 and the William Pettus Hobby Professor of history since 1997. A professor for 30 years, teaching at Towson State College and Tulane University before coming to Rice, Dr. Boles was the NEH Fellow in Anthropology at Johns Hopkins University in 1976-1977. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Rice in 1965 and his Doctorate from the University of Virginia in 1967.

A renowned expert on U.S. Southern history, especially as it relates to antebellum social, cultural, religious, women's and black history, Professor Boles has authored 7 books, 10 editing projects, 35 scholarly articles and over 100 reviews. The managing editor of Journal of Southern History since 1983, Dr. Boles has served in editorial positions for several scholarship journals.