David L. Ransel is Robert F. Byrnes Professor of History and Director of the Russian and East European Institute at Indiana University, Bloomington. He received his B.A. from Coe College (Cedar Rapids, IA), M.A. from Northwestern University, and Ph.D. from Yale University (1969). He taught at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1967 to 1985 before moving to Indiana. He has served as editor of Slavic Review (1979-85) and editor of the American Historical Review (1985-1995) and in these capacities sat on the Board of Directors and Finance Committee of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies (AAASS) and the Governing Council and Finance Committee of the American Historical Association. He was president of the AAASS in 2004.
Professor Ransel is a specialist on the history of politics, society, and family in Russia. His major scholarly contributions include The Politics of Catherinian Russia: The Panin Party (Yale 1975), a study of family and clientele influences in Russian politics. He produced and edited The Family in Imperial Russia: New Lines of Historical Research (Illinois, 1978), the first collection of essays on Russian family life. His second monograph, Mothers of Misery: Child Abandonment in Russia (Princeton 1988) treated state responses to pathologies of family life and opened the field of the history of charity in Russia. He followed this with studies of village life, including the reconstruction of an ethnography focusing on peasant women and children, Village Life in Late Tsarist Russia (Indiana 1993) and another major monograph, Village Mothers: Three Generations of Change in Russia and Tataria (Indiana 2000), a book based on oral testimony collected from over 100 village women throughout Russia. Ransel also published, together with Jane Burbank, an edited collection, Imperial Russia: New Histories for the Empire, which sought to reconceptualize imperial Russian history after the fall of the Soviet Union. He then edited with Bozena Shallcross a book on the formation of Russian identity in response to Polish cultural and political assertion, Polish Encounters, Russian Identity (Indiana University Press 2005). Ransel's latest monograph, A Russian Merchant's Tale: The Life and Adventures of Ivan Alekseevich Tolchënov Based on His Diary (Indiana University Press, 2009), challenges fundamentally the received views of the imperial Russian merchant class in Russian and Western historiography.
Ransel has also published several dozen articles on these and related topics. He is currently at work on two projects: a study of national identity in eighteenth-century Russia, and an oral-history study of the allegiance to key social institutions of two generations of workers in the industrial suburbs of Moscow.
He works with students in the history and anthropology programs on projects in political, social, oral history, and gender.