Department of History
Old Horticulture
506 E. Circle Dr
Room 256
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824
Main: 517.355.7500
Fax: 517.353.5599
Email: history [at] msu [dot] edu
Hours: 8:00-5:00 M-F

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U.S. History

The U.S. History faculty at Michigan State University enjoys a national and international reputation for research, teaching, outreach, and leadership in humanities technology and computing.  The size and scholarly activity of the U.S. faculty at Michigan State creates a unique intellectual environment.  The U.S. field includes 15 tenure-stream faculty members with diverse research and teaching interests.  The program has particular strength in late-19th and early-20th century social and political history; African American and Comparative Black history; Native American history; gender history; Jewish and Latino/a history; cultural, intellectual, and religious history; labor history; journalism and media history; food and environmental history; and comparative and transnational history.  Recent books are representative of the new and exciting contributions that the U.S. faculty are making to the field.  These include:

David Bailey, Shoadow on the Church: Southwestern Evangelical Religion and the Issue of Slavery, 1783-1860

Pero G. Dagbovie, Black History: Old School Black Historians and the Hip Hop Generation

Christine Daniels, Negotiated Empires: Centers and Peripheries in the Americas, 1500-1820

Kirsten Fermaglich, American Dreams and Nazi Nightmares: Early Holocaust Consciousness and Liberal America, 1957-1965

Lisa Fine, The Story of REO Joe: Work, Kin, and Community in Autotown, U.S.A.

Peter Knupfer, The Union As It Is: Constitutional Unionism and Sectionalism Compromise, 1787-1861

Malcolm Magee, What the World Should Be: Woodrow Wilson and the Crafting of a Faith Based Foreign Policy

Javier Pescador, Crossing Borders with the Santo Niño de Atocha

Sayuri Shimizu, Creating a People of Plenty: The United States and Japan’s Economic Alternatives, 1950-1960

Susan Sleeper-Smith, Indian Women and French Men: Rethinking Cultural Encounter in the Western Great Lakes

Thomas Summerhill, Harvest of Dissent: Agrarianism in Nineteenth-Century New York

Dennis Valdes, Al Norte: Agricultural Workers in the Great Lakes region, 1917-1970

Naoko Wake, Private Practices: Harry Stack Sullivan, the Science of Homosexuality, and American Liberalism


Faculty members are actively involved in outreach and consulting activities that form a major part of Michigan State University’s mission as a public university. U.S. historians have completed two major federally funded teacher education projects in recent years, one in partnership with the Battle Creek School District, the other with Okemos Public Schools.  History faculty members have also conducted annual workshops for secondary teachers on teaching the Holocaust, and have curated a museum exhibit on Jewish life in Michigan.  Faculty also regularly undertake consulting work with government and private agencies.

Graduate Program

The graduate program in United States History at Michigan State University offers students the opportunity to pursue their research interests from a national, transnational, or comparative perspective.  U.S. graduate students typically take the U.S. Historiography sequence (History 800 and 801) and the U.S. Readings and Research sequence (History 807 and 808).  Additional coursework depends on the area of specialization.  The U.S. history faculty offer research strengths in  Native American History, African American/Comparative Black History, Chicano/Latino History as well as Labor and Working-Class History, Women’s and Gender History, History of Science, Jewish History, History of Food, Media History,  Environmental History, and Religious and Political History.  The History Department has strong links to study centers and specialized programs that support collaborative research and training in these areas.  These include:  African American and African Studies, American Indian Studies ( and, Chicano/Latino Studies, Center for Gender in Global Context, Jewish Studies, Lyman Briggs College.  The research collections at Michigan State University provide graduate students with rich resources to pursue their scholarly interests.  The MSU library has world-class collections in U.S. history and Special Collections houses the Russell B. Nye Popular Culture Collection, the American Radicalism Collection, the Ethnic Studies Collection, the Comic Book Collection, the Changing Men Collection, and the Lesbian, Bay, Bi-sexual and Transgender Collection.  The University Archives and Historical Collections contains a substantial number of collections relating to the social, agricultural, and political  history of nineteenth-century America as well as extensive archives for Michigan State University.  These archival resources are further enriched by rich adjacent regional archives, that include:

A sample of research libraries and archives in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Wisconsin:

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Selected Dissertations and Placements:

2010: Dawn Ottevaere Nickeson, “‘The Cost Is Sworn to by Women’: Gender, Resistance, and Counterinsurgency during the Philippine-American War, 1898-1902,” Southeast Asia Specialist, the Department of Defense.

2009: Ted Mitchell, “Connecting a Nation, Dividing a City: How Railroads Shaped the Built Environment and Social Understanding of Chicago,” Elizabeth City State University

2009: Thomas Henthorn, “Faith, Philanthropy, and Southern Progress: Social Policy and Urban Development in Houston, Texas, 1890-1930,” Dorotheya Wyatt Professorship in U.S. History at the University of Michigan – Flint

2009: Chad Waucaush, “Becoming Christian, Remaining Ojibwe: The Emergence of Native American Protestant Christianity in the Great Lakes, 1820-1900,” College of Southern Nevada

2009:  Ryan Pettengill, “Communists and Community: Unionism and the Rise and Fall of Community Activism in Detroit,” Mountain View College, Dallas, Texas

2009:  Jeanine Mazak-Kahne, “Birthplace of Aluminum, Cradles of Crime: Spheres of Influence in the Deindustrialization of New Kensington, Pennsylvania, 1930-1970,” Indiana University of Pennsylvania

2008:  Daniel A. Dalrymple, “In the shadow of Garvey : Garveyites in New York City and the British Caribbean, 1925-1950,” Bethel University

2008:  Joseph Genetin-Pilawa, “Confining Indians:  Power, Authority, and the Colonialist Ideologies of Nineteenth-Century Reformers,” Illinois College

2008:  Sowande’ Mustakeem,  ‘Make haste & let me see you with a good cargo of Negroes’ :  Gender, Health, and Violence in the Eighteenth-Century Middle Passage , 2008, Washington University

2005:  Amy Hay, “Recipe for Disaster: Chemical Wastes, Community Activists, and Public Health at Love Canal, 1945-2000,” University of Texas -Pan American

2003:  Kristi Rutz-Robbins, “Colonial Commerce:  Race, Class, and Gender in a Local Economy, Albemarle, North Carolina, 1663-1729,” California State University, San Marcos

2002: Julia Robinson Harmon, “Reverend Robert L. Bradby, “Establishing the Kingdom of God among migrants, women and workers, 1910-1946,” 2002, University of North Carolina, Charlotte

2002:  Daniel J. Lerner, “Visions of a Sporting City: ‘Shadowball and Black Chicago, 1887-1950,” 2002, Associate Dean, Grand Valley Community College, School of Arts & Letters

2002: Karen Madden, “Ready to Work: Women in Vermont and Michigan from Suffrage to Republican Party Politics,” Johnson State College

2001: Matthew C. Whitaker, “Western Resistance: Lincoln and Eleanor Ragsdale and the transformation of the black freedom struggle in the American West,” Arizona State

2001: Jayne Moris-Crowther, “A Challenge and a Promise: The Political Activities of Detroit Clubwomen in the 1920s,” Rider College

2001: Jennifer Stollman, “’Building Up a House of Israel in the Land of Christ’: Jewish Women in the Antebellum and Civil War South,” Fort Lewis College, Colorado

2001: Melanie Shell-Weiss, “’They All Came from Someplace Else’: Miami, Florida’s Immigrant Communities, 1896-1970,” Johns Hopkins University