Bell Irvin Wiley (January 5, 1906 – April 4, 1980) was an American historian who specialized in the American Civil War and was an authority on military history and the social history of common people. He died in Atlanta, Georgia, from a heart attack.
Born in rural Halls, Tennessee, Wiley was one of 13 children, 11 of whom lived past infancy. The family did farm work, and Wiley had the experience of plowing behind a mule. His dislike for the drudgery of farm chores and the merciless Southern heat motivated him to plan a career in education.
Wiley's maternal grandfather had marched with the Army of Tennessee, fighting against Union General William Tecumseh Sherman’s army. While he barely remembered him, Wiley spent several summers as a boy with his widow, who often held him spellbound with her recollections of the period. Wiley's family frequently hosted both a Confederate and a Union soldier, who would entertain them with their accounts of what they experienced when each had opposed the other in battle.
Wiley earned a BA at Asbury College in 1928 and a Ph.D. from Yale University in 1933, where he worked under Ulrich B. Phillips. In 1934 Wiley became a professor of history at State Teachers College (now the University of Southern Mississippi). He married Mary Frances Harrison in 1937; they had two children. He served as professor of history at the University of Mississippi (1938-1943), Louisiana State University (1946-1949), and Emory University (1949-1974).
- Rank and file: Civil War essays in honor of Bell Irvin Wiley (1976)
- Cotton and Slavery in the History of West Tennessee (1929)
- Southern Negroes, 1861-1865 (1938) typescript in archives
- The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy (LSU Press, 1943) read online excerpt and text search 2007 edition
- The Plain People of the Confederacy (LSU Press, 1943) read online excerpt and text search 2000 edition
- Greenfield, Kent Roberts, Robert R. Palmer, Bell I. Wiley. The Organization of Ground Combat Troops (1947) on World War II
- Palmer, Robert Roswell, Bell I. Wiley, William R. Keast. The Procurement and Training of Ground Combat Troops (1948) on World War II read online
- The Life of Billy Yank: The Common Soldier of the Union (1952) read online excerpt and text search 2008 edition
- The Road to Appomattox (1956)
- Recollections of a Confederate Staff Officer by Brig. Gen. G. Moxley Sorrel, C.S.A. (ed.) (Tennessee: McCowat-Mercer Press, 1958)
- The Role of the Archivist in the Civil War Centennial (1961) read online
- Embattled Confederates: An Illustrated History of Southerners at War (Harper & Row, 1964) read online
- Confederate Women: Beyond the Petticoat (1975)
- Slaves No More: Letters from Liberia, 1833-1869 (University of Kentucky Press, 1980) read online
- Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University: Bell Irvin Wiley papers, 1928-1981