Timeline of Robert Romer's Life

portrait of Robert Romer

  • 1931 Robert Romer is born in Chicago, Illinois, where his father is a paleontologist and professor at the University of Chicago.
  • 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 prejudices.”
  • 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 College.
  • 1963-72 Dr. Romer is a Visiting Physicist and Guest Physicist at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island.
  • 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 Betty Romer).
  • 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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