Author: L. Moody Simms


Philip Alexander Bruce (1856–1933)

Philip Alexander Bruce was a historian whose five-volume account of seventeenth-century Virginia history continues to be cited as an important work of scholarship. Born in Charlotte County into an accomplished family, Bruce studied law at the University of Virginia and at Harvard but found his calling in scholarship. He wrote briefly for the Richmond Times before joining the Virginia Historical Society and, in 1893, helping to found its quarterly journal, the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography. Her served as the magazine’s first editor from 1893 until 1898. Bruce’s own work often focused on social and economic history, seeking the origins of the New South while often marginalizing African Americans. His five volumes on seventeenth-century Virginia, published between 1896 and 1910, included two on economic history, one on social life, and two on institutions such as the church, the courts, and the General Assembly. Bruce also served as the University of Virginia’s centennial historian, writing a five-volume history of the school’s founding and first hundred years. He died in 1933 at his home in Charlottesville.