Roy Franklin Nichols, a scholar of 19th-century American history, wrote a dozen books, including a biography of Franklin Pierce, the 14th president of the United States. In 1949, he received a Pulitzer Prize for his book The Disruption of American Democracy, which chronicled the unstable years leading up to the Civil War. A descendant of the Mayflower pilgrims, Nichols came to Rutgers on a state scholarship. He was class historian and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. One of Rutgers’ first graduate students, he earned a master’s degree in history in 1919. A fellowship led him to Columbia University, where he earned a doctorate. In 1925, he became a professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania. He went on to become vice provost and dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences from 1953 until his retirement in 1966. Nichols received nine honorary degrees and held the Pitt professorship at Cambridge University. He was president of the American Historical Association in 1966 and served Rutgers as a member of the Board of Trustees in the 1940s and the Board of Governors from 1957–71. He died in 1972 at age 76.
Roy Franklin Nichols
Rutgers College 1918
Hall of Distinguished Alumni Class of