Timeline of Robert Romer's Life
- 1931 Robert Romer is born in Chicago, Illinois,
where his father is a paleontologist and professor at the University
- c. 1932-33 The Romer family moves to Cambridge,
Massachusetts, where Robert’s father becomes the director
of Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. Robert Romer says
of his mother, “She was an ardent member of the Cambridge League
of Women Voters and a founder of a government reform movement
that finally did much to improve city government in Cambridge.” Both
of his parents would be admirers of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Robert grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
- (This quotation and others in this timeline are from emails,
written by Robert Romer, and on file at PVMA.)
- 1934-37 Robert attends kindergarten and
nursery school at the Avon Hill Street School in Cambridge.
- 1937-42 Robert goes to the Cambridge Lower
School for grades two through six. He relates, “My parents
told me later – I do NOT remember this – that on
the first day of first grade, I put my head down on the desk
and announced: ‘I know all this.’”
- 1942-45 Robert goes to the Shady Hill School
in Cambridge for grades seven, eight, and nine. He remembers
this as the best school that he ever attended.
- 1945-48 Robert attends Phillips Exeter Academy
for grades ten through twelve. While “academically excellent,” he
recalls, “boarding school, especially single sex ones, at a
time when kids are interested in, concerned about sex and the
opposite sex is a bad time for locking boys up away from girls.” Dr.
Romer remembers that he first witnessed racial prejudice while
attending Exeter. There he saw first-hand “cliques and the
like, and learned for the first time about anti-black and anti-Semitic
- 1945-50 During the summers, Robert works
as an onion and tobacco harvester in North Hadley, Massachusetts.
- 1948-52 Robert attends Amherst College in
Amherst, Massachusetts, as an undergraduate student.
- 1950 Robert Romer joins the American Civil
Liberties Union, a membership which he has retained ever since.
- 1951 During the summer Robert serves as
a Fire Lookout in Nez Perce National Forest, Idaho.
- 1952-55 Supported by National Science Foundation
predoctoral fellowships and a working wife, Romer attends Princeton
University, graduating with a PhD in Physics.
- 1952 During the summer, Robert serves as
a research assistant at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
- 1953 Robert marries Diana Haynes. Dr. and
Mrs. Romer raise three sons together. According to Dr. Romer, “My
sons are: (1) excellent high-school math teacher in Binghamton,
NY; (2) economics professor at UC-Berkeley; (3) computer guy
(with PhD in computer science at Amazon in Seattle.)”
- 1955-2001 Dr. Romer teaches Physics at Amherst
- 1963-72 Dr. Romer is a Visiting Physicist
and Guest Physicist at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long
- August 28, 1963 Robert Romer attends the
March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
- 1964-65 Dr. Romer conducts research at the
Centre de Recherché sur les Tres Basses Temperatures
in Grenoble, France.
- 1968-74 Professor Romer is the Associate
Editor of the American Journal of Physics, the physics
journal with the largest circulation in the world.
- 1969-70 Dr. Romer is a Visiting Professor
of Physics at Voorhees College, an historically black college
in Denmark, South Carolina.
- 1972 In the spring of this year, President
Nixon announces that he has ordered the mining of North Vietnamese
harbors. Dr. Romer commits acts of civil disobedience at Westover
Air Force Base, Chicopee, Massachusetts, in protest of United
States actions in the Vietnam War. He is arrested twice.
- 1992 Robert’s wife, Diana Romer dies.
- 1994 Dr. Romer marries Betty Steele (now
- 2001-04 Dr. Romer is on the curatorial staff
of Historic Deerfield, Inc., giving tours at the home of Reverend
Jonathan Ashley. From 2001 until the present, partially supported
by an “Emeritus Faculty Research Grant” from Amherst College,
he has carried out research on the African Americans who lived
as slaves in the Connecticut Valley of western Massachusetts
during the eighteenth century. He has given many lectures and
walking tours on slavery in the valley to various groups, from
elementary school children to retirement communities.
- 2003-2007 Robert and Betty Romer enjoy annual
trips to Italy. Dr. Romer studies Italian. In 2006, the Romers
go on a tour around the world which includes a 7,000-mile trip
on the Trans-Siberian Express and an excursion to Mongolia.
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