Before turning his attention to the American Revolution and the founding of the nation, Raphael published books on subjects as diverse as male initiation rites, education, regional history (Northwest California), and timber politics. His first book, An Everyday History of Somewhere, won the Commonwealth Club award for the best book of the year about California. A Phi Beta Kappa graduate from Reed College, he holds masters degrees from the University of California at Berkeley (Political Philosophy) and Reed College (Teaching Social Science and History). In addition to teaching at Humboldt State University and College of the Redwoods, he has taught all subjects except foreign languages at a one-room public high school in his remote community. He is currently a Senior Research Fellow with Humboldt State University, working full time as a researcher and writer. He writes frequently for the online Journal of the American Revolution (he is also an associate editor there) and occasionally for History News Network and American History. He lives in northern California, where he hikes and kayaks.(A more personal version follows at the end of this section.)
BA, Reed College, 1965 (Phi Beta Kappa)
1967-1968: Jefferson High School (Portland, OR)
Courses taught at the college level: United States history (all components), California history, Humboldt County history, Native American studies, critical thinking, and multi-cultural education. Courses taught at the secondary and middle school levels: United States history, world history, English, algebra I and II, geometry, basic math, natural science, physical science, civics, economics, global studies, geography, anthropology, folklore, critical thinking, forestry, and physical education.
Awards and recognition:
Elected to Phi Beta Kappa, 1965
Ray Raphael, born in 1943 and raised in New York City, headed west the day after graduating Fieldston high school. During the 1960s he was active in the civil rights movement, spending two summers in the South and working on community organization in the North. In the 1970s he homesteaded in the hills of Northwest California, where he and his wife Marie raised their two sons, Nick and Neil. He taught a comprehensive one-room high school in his remote home as well as evening courses at the local community college, and he began writing about local history and contemporary issues.
In his first book, An Everyday History of Somewhere, Raphael relied extensively on oral histories. In subsequent works dealing with topics of local and regional importance (Edges, Tree Talk, Cash Crop), he adapted this oral history approach, weaving his own narrative around the stories of real people as told in their own words. His treatment of more general topics (Teachers’ Voice, Men from the Boys) likewise relied on in-depth interviews, faithfully rendered. Little White Father, a historical piece, made extensive use of primary documents. He wrote a play on John and Jessie Fremont, which toured various towns in Northern California. With his son Neil, then 12 years old, he wrote a juvinile mystery called Comic Cops.
In the early 1990s, while preparing curriculum for his United States history courses, he became keenly interested in the history of common people during the American Revolution. Stimulated by a year-long grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities, he traveled to Eastern archives to pursue his passion. Since that time he has been focused on the Revolution and the nation’s founding, with a particular emphasis on how historical narratives are created.
Raphael retired from teaching in 1997. He continued to supervise student teachers at Humboldt State University, but since 2000 he has worked primarily on his research and writing, teaching only occasionally.In 2003 his son Nick, an environmental forester, was killed in a car crash at the age of 26. In his memory, Marie and Ray started “Nick’s Interns,” a program that gives summer work to teens in restoration forestry.