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About the Author


Wilbur Henry Siebert

Wilbur Henry Siebert was born in Columbus, Ohio on August 30, 1866. He was the youngest of the three sons and one daughter of Louis and Sarah Van De Water Siebert. The elder Siebert had come to Ohio as a child in 1832 from Frankfurt in Germany with his bookbinder father who established a business in Columbus. Wilbur Siebert was educated in the local public schools and the enrolled at Ohio State University where he received his undergraduate degree in 1888. He did graduate work in history at Harvard, gaining a master's degree in 1890 and went on to further study in several German universities. He returned to Columbus to take up a post at Ohio State, teaching history and political science. He was to remain at the University for the rest of his career.

Almost as soon as he began teaching, he was following his interests in Ohio's role in support of slaves escaping the south in the years before the American Civil War. Enlisting his students, he gathered a remarkable amount of evidence from survivors of the work of the so-called Underground Railroad and their offspring, both in Ohio and other states. Aided with a sabbatical he spent at Harvard in 1895, he published his groundbreaking The Underground Railroad from Slavery to Freedom in 1898. Though his later work on other topics never gained the attention of his first project, he completed other book on Ohio government and wrote extensively on the Loyalists during the American Revolutionary War in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

He was named as full professor of European History and chair of the history department in 1902 and he served in these posts until 1923. He moved then to a position as research professor until his final retirement in 1935. He served the university in other ways, too, as secretary of the faculty, acting dean of the faculty in several instances, and dean of the graduate school in 1917 and 1918. His father and his brothers, now very successful book manufacturers, also contributed with the funding of the Siebert Library of German History at Ohio State. A lifelong Republican and a member of the Congregationalist church, Siebert found time for contributions to the city beyond the university; he was the founder and first president of a social settlement in the city housed in the purpose-built Goodman Guild House.

As a young assistant professor, in August 1893, Siebert had married Annie Ware, the daughter of a Columbus area lawyer who held degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Ohio State. The couple had no children although they raised a brother and sister as foster children. Wilbur Henry Siebert died in Columbus, Ohio on September 2, 1961, three days after his ninety-fifth birthday.

Please visit the following link for books authored by Wilbur Henry Siebert maintained in the Their Own Words database:

Siebert, Wilbur Henry, 1866-1961

Researched, authored, and edited by John Osborne, Ph. D., and James Gerencser.

Page created: September 5, 2006                                            close window