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William Martin Academic Career Papers

Identifier: UA 0120
Finding aid note: Stored off-site at the Library Service Center. Please request this material via or call 713-348-2586.

Scope and Contents

These records reflect the core academic interests of William “Bill” Martin, Prof. of Sociology, Rice University. Formats included clippings, research files, notebooks, books and subject files. Subjects include anthropology, education, political science, religion, ethics, popular culture and psychology.


  • Creation: 1960-1999


Conditions Governing Access

Stored off-site at the Library Service Center. Please request this material via or call 713-348-2586.

Biographical / Historical

William Martin (Ph.D, Harvard, 1969), is the Harry and Hazel Chavanne Emeritus Professor of Religion and Public Policy in the Department of Sociology at Rice. Since his retirement from teaching in June 2005, he serves as the Chavanne Senior Fellow for Religion and Public Policy at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice. His areas of specialization include religion, criminology, and issues related to drug use and drug policy. He has been a professor at Rice since 1968.

Professor Martin's recent research and writing have focused in two areas: 1) religious fundamentalism and its impact in the political arena, in the United States and elsewhere; and 2) issues related to drugs, with particular emphasis on ways to reduce the harms associated with drug abuse and drug policy. In this connection, he has organized and chaired a series of programs at conferences at the Baker Institute dealing with these issues.

After several years of experience as a boy preacher, Bill Martin attended Abilene (Texas) Christian University, where he received B.A. (1958) and M.A. (1960) degrees in Biblical Studies and taught for one year as a graduate assistant. He then attended Harvard Divinity School, where he received the B.D. degree in 1963. In 1969, he received his Ph.D. from Harvard, in a program known as Religion and Society, a joint effort between the Divinity School and the Department of Social Relations. His dissertation, Christians in Conflict: The Role of the Clergy in Racial Conflict in Rochester, New York, was prepared under the direction of Harvey Cox, Joseph Fichter, and Thomas Pettigrew. At Harvey Cox's suggestion, he submitted an article based on his thesis to The Atlantic Monthly, which published it as the lead article in its December 1967 issue. Flushed with the pleasure of having his work read by large numbers, Bill Martin began to follow an unusual career path of publishing mainly in high-quality magazines such as The Atlantic, Harper's, Esquire, and Texas Monthly, for which he wrote a three-year monthly series of articles on Texas churches that led to his being the subject of a "60 Minutes" segment in September 1979. During the 1970s and 1980s, Professor Martin concentrated mainly on religious broadcasters and was one of the first academicians to give serious attention to what came to be known as the Electronic Church. At the end of the 1970s, this led naturally to increased attention to fundamentalist involvement in politics and the rise of the movement known as the Religious Right. This work culminated, after dozens of articles, in his writing "With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America" (Broadway Books, 1996), the companion volume to the PBS mini-series of the same name and for which he served as chief consultant. A revised edition of both the book and the video series appeared in the summer of 2005. His writings on various aspects of evangelical and fundamentalist religion also led to his being given the opportunity write "A Prophet with Honor: The Billy Graham Story" (William Morrow, 1991), regarded as the most authoritative biography of the famed evangelist. An updated version of this book is in progress [as of July 1998]. In addition to these historical and sociological publications, Professor Martin also wrote "My Prostate and Me: Dealing with Prostate Cancer" (Caddell and Davies, 1994), an account of his own successful bout with this disease. As a result, he has appeared on more than 150 radio and television programs to discuss prostate cancer and regularly counsels with men and families touched by the disease.

More recently, as noted above, Bill Martin has taken an active role in the Baker Institute, organizing and chairing programs and conferences on the impact of religion, particularly various forms of fundamentalism, on public policy, and on ways to reduce the harms associated with drug abuse and drug policy. Many of these papers are available on the Baker Institute website.

Bill Martin received a number of teaching awards during his years as a professor, including the George R. Brown Life Honor Award, which made him ineligible for most additional awards given by Rice. At age sixteen, he decided to become a college professor as a consequence of exposure to particularly inspiring and dedicated teachers he encountered during his freshman year in college. As he enters partial retirement after more than thirty-seven years at Rice, he still regards it as a fine decision.

Recent Publications

"With God on Their Side: Religion and American Foreign Policy," Chapter 11 in Hugh Heclo and Wilfred M. McClay, "Refurnishing the Public Square: Religion and Public Policy in Twentieth-Century America," (Woodrow Wilson Center/Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003). "Amen," Texas Monthly, December 2002. Billy Graham's October 2002 Metroplex Mission. "Embracing the Lite" in Arvind Sharma," editor, Religion in a Secular City: Essays in Honor of Harvey Cox. Trinity Press International, 2001. "With God on Their Side" Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, Winter/Spring 2000, pp. 7-14. "Billy Graham" Christian History, 65 (Vol. XIX, No. 1), Spring 2000. Pp. 12-16 "The Christian Right and American Foreign Policy" Foreign Policy, Spring 1999, pp. 66-80.


20 Linear Feet ( (20 boxes) )

Language of Materials



Collection contains the writings and publications of Dr. Martin’s distinguished career dealing with religion, drug policy, religious fundamentalism and its effect on popular culture/politics, Texas churches, and life as a cancer survivor.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was a gift donated by William Martin on July, 13 2004.

Guide to the William Martin Academic Papers, 1960-1999
Damian Brum
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Woodson Research Center, Rice University, Houston, Texas Repository

Fondren Library MS-44, Rice University
6100 Main St.
Houston Texas 77005 USA