Peter Knupfer

Position: Associate Professor Emeritus
Field: 19th Century, Digital Humanities, History Education, Political
Region: United States

Office Hours:

Welcome, web traveler, to my History Department web HQ. I have retired from the profession after 40 years teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Arizona State University, Phoenix College, Mesa Community College, Kansas State University, and finally, 20 years at Michigan State University. I can be reached at the email address above.

I earned my B.S. (Secondary Education/Social Studies, 1976), MA and PhD (History, 1981, 1989) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I studied under Richard Sewell.  My scholarly research has focused on the sectional crisis and American political culture and behavior during the Civil War era; my first book, The Union As It Is: Constitutional Unionism and Sectional Compromise, 1787-1861, examines the civic tradition of grand compromises over morally and economically intractable issues in the early republic. I have since studied the late antebellum activities of Unionists and conservatives, with contributions to anthologies by Paul Finkelman and David Blight.  I am completing a volume, “The Civil War Era: America’s Defining Moment,” in the Issues and Controversies in American History Series from Facts on File/Palgrave MacMillan, edited by Ballard Campbell.  I also have pursued career interests in public history, cultural heritage, history education, and digital humanities. From 2005 to 2019 I served as the executive director of H-Net, the largest online scholarly community in the social sciences and humanities; I continue to serve as an editor of H-SHEAR, our network on the early republic.  My interest in history education has encompassed participation in a series of Teaching American History grant programs, plus a chapter about postsecondary history teaching in Kelly Woestman and Rachel Ragland’s anthology on TAH; I am currently studying history education and pedagogy in the nineteenth century, with particular interest in the work of Emma Willard and Marcius Willson, prolific authors of schoolbooks in history, civics, and reading.  I published “How to Write a History Textbook: The Willard-Willson Debate Over History Education in the Common School Era,” History of Education Quarterly 59, no. 2 (May 2019):257-87. My most recent publication is on literacy and object teaching, Learning to Read While Reading to Learn: Marcius Willson’s Basal Readers, Science Education, and Object Teaching, 1860–1890, Paedagogica Historica, 18 Feb 2021. After spending a year with my family in South Africa, I administered a Ford/Mellon-funded technology training program for cultural heritage professionals there. I have taught courses on the American Civil War, the American Revolutionary Era, public history, history education, American business & economic history, comparative slave systems, American military history, modern America 1877-1945, and Western Humanities.