Joseph Raben is a professor emeritus of English at Queens College of the City University of New York, where he taught for 30 years. Before that he was a teaching fellow at Indiana University and an instructor at Princeton University. He was awarded a B.A. with honors at the University of Wisconsin and a Ph.D. at Indiana University, where he minored in folklore under Stith Thompson. His bachelor's honors thesis was on pronunciation as revealed by rhyme schemes in American folksongs, and his doctoral dissertation studied folk speech in Scott's novels. After graduating from Wisconsin, he worked as an engineering aide on the construction of the Hanford Engineer Works, and then entered the Army, where he was trained in spoken Japanese and served in Tokyo as an editor of translations in the Allied Translator and Interpreter Service, attached to GHQ. In this service he translated documents used in the war crimes trials.
At Queens he developed an interest in using computers in humanities research and in 1966 founded the innovative journal Computers and the Humanities to provide a platform for younger pioneering scholars to publish their research. He both edited and carried a large share of this journal's publication chores for 20 years. Among its most useful features was a semiannual Directory of Scholars Active, which informed practitioners around the world of recent applications of computer technology to humanities and related social science problems. These notes he cumulated into a print volume, Computer-Assisted Research in the Humanities (New York: Pergamon Press, 1977). In 1978 he founded the Association for Computers and the Humanities and served as its president for two years before turning it over to younger successors. During this same period, he helped to organize several international conferences at the University of Southern California, Grinnell College, Dartmouth College, Rutgers University, North Carolina State University and Auburn University. He also presented papers at many international conferences organized by others and represented humanities computing at conferences organized by groups within the computer industry, such as the ACM, the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, the International Federation for Information Processing, and the American Society for Information Science. He organized special interest groups at several MLA conventions and within the ACM. He was an invited lecturer at academic institutions all over the United States, Canada, and Western Europe, and in India, China, and Japan. Much of the same effort was contained in articles published in a variety of journals, along with his contributions to Shelley scholarship, some of it based on the manuscript materials in the Bodleian Library.