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October 25, 2002

BELLESILES UPDATE: Michael Bellesiles has resigned from the Emory faculty:

October 25, 2002

Robert A. Paul, Interim Dean of Emory College


I have accepted the resignation of Michael Bellesiles from his position as Professor of History at Emory University, effective December 31, 2002.


Although we would not normally release any of the materials connected with a case involving the investigation of faculty misconduct in research, in light of the intense scholarly interest in the matter I have decided, with the assent of Professor Bellesiles as well as of the members of the Investigative Committee, to make public the report of the Investigative Committee appointed by me to evaluate the allegations made against Professor Bellesiles (none of the supporting documents, however, are being made public). The text of the report is now available online at www.emory.edu/central/NEWS/.

Emory considers the report authoritative.

In conducting this investigation, Emory has scrupulously observed the procedures laid out in our published policy statement regarding matters of alleged research misconduct. Throughout the investigation process our efforts have been guided by the objectives of maintaining the highest standards of scholarly integrity, while also striving to ensure the confidentiality of the proceedings and to protect the rights of a member of Emory's faculty.

The Investigative Committee was chaired by Stanley N. Katz, Professor of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, and included Hanna H. Gray, Judson Distinguished Professor of History Emerita and President Emerita, University of Chicago, and Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, James Duncan Phillips Professor of History, Harvard University. I hereby express my appreciation to these distinguished scholars for contributing their effort and expertise to the resolution of this matter of such great importance not only to Emory but to the wider scholarly community. Committee members have stated that they will not discuss or respond to questions about the investigation or the report.

Emory also wishes to express its thanks and appreciation to Professor Bellesiles for his many years of service and his many valuable contributions to the University.

Emory now considers the investigation of allegations of research misconduct against Professor Bellesiles in connection with his book Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture to be concluded and resolved.

Here's a link to the report mentioned above, and here's a link to Bellesiles' own statement.

UPDATE: A historian reader writes: "Yowza... I just read the Emory report. Even taking account of the dodgy language for the benefit of a colleague, that is mighty damning stuff. I could teach a whole semester on research methodology and ethics from this."

Well, somebody should. Clayton Cramer has extracted some highlights from the Emory report. Oh, and this post by Charles Murtaugh from a while back is worth reading, too. And this piece by Don Williams from May explores the impact of Bellesiles' problems on the gun control movement.

UPDATE: Oh, and I can't believe I forgot to post this link to James Lindgren's Yale Law Journal piece on Bellesiles' errors, which the investigative committee obviously found very significant.