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John Thornton

Boston University

John K. Thornton is an American historian specializing in the history of Africa and the African Diaspora. Born 1949 into a military family and educated at the University of Michigan (1971) and UCLA (1972 and PhD 1979) Thornton focused initially on the history of the Kingdom of Kongo. From the start of this work, Thornton became convinced that the status of Kongo as a Christian country had not been fully recognized through his work on missionary baptismal statistics which he sought to show reflected large scale baptism and used this material to write a treatise on Kongo demography. His work on baptismal records resulted in the publication of the article "Demography and History in the Kingdom of Kongo" (1977), and a contribution on another baptismal document in the First Edinburgh Conference on African Historical Demography. His studies of Africa in the slave trade led him, at the urging of English historian Jeremy Black to write a systematic study of African wars and military culture in the period of the slave trade, which appeared in 1998 as *Warfare in Atlantic Africa, 1500-1800 *(1998). After having taught at Millersville University since 1986, John Thornton joined the Boston University faculty in fall 2003.