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Modern U.S. History is an exciting and rapidly changing field. The University of Minnesota has been at the forefront of these changes and is well positioned to continue that leadership. Social and cultural history, in particular, have been central to the reshaping of historical approaches and interpretations, fields in which this department has long been very strong. Our thematic sub-fields, in addition, link faculty and students to comparative workshops within the department and a wide range of interdisciplinary programs throughout the university.
Under the leadership of Russell Menard and Steve Ruggles, Minnesota has become the premier training ground for quantitative methods in U.S. history, with an emphasis on social, economic, and demographic studies. Under the direction of Steve Ruggles, the Minnesota Population Center is creating one of the largest historical population databases in the world. The Center provides training and employment for many of our students. Professor Ruggles' scholarship has focused on U.S. family structure, the Black family, and changes in household composition. Elaine Tyler May's studies of divorce, infertility, and Cold War culture add a cultural dimension to family history.
Jason Stahl: As a 20th Century U.S. historian, I was initially attracted to Minnesota because of its excellent faculty as well as its generous financial support. Now, after three years in the program, I know I made the right decision and can add three more reasons why the U of M has one of the best departments in the country: 1) The teaching experience is one-of-a-kind with faculty and graduate students working in a true partnership; 2) Graduate students operate as a community, not in competition; 3) Interdisciplinary work is not only accepted, but also encouraged.
With Russell Menard, an economic historian of colonial North America, and George Green, an economic and business historian whose work focuses on the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the Department offers broad coverage for students in the area of U.S. economic history. In addition, there are opportunities to pursue comparative economic history with faculty in European and Asian history.
The University of Minnesota houses one of the preeminent archives dedicated to the field of Immigration History under the direction of Erika Lee. Erika Lee's work on Asian-American, and specifically Chinese, immigration opens up for us one of the newest arenas of study in the field of migration. Donna Gabaccia has studied immigration to the United States and Italian migrations to other areas of the world. She has a strong interest in the comparative and global histories of migration and immigration, gender, class and nation. Together with a cross-disciplinary group of faculty and students, they have created an ongoing seminar in Race, Ethnicity, and Migration. Linked to fields in family and immigration are faculty whose work is primarily in the areas of race and ethnicity. Jean O'Brien-Kehoe studies Native American history in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Her studies are further enhanced by the presence of strong programs in American Indian Studies, Chicano Studies, and American Studies at Minnesota. Barbara Welke approaches the study of race through the field of legal history.
Recent appointments to the US History faculty have greatly strengthened the field in late 19th and 20th century US. David Chang teaches on race and nationalism in the US, Native American and African American history, and the history of the American West. Chang is currently writing a book on discourses and practices of race and nation in the conflict over land ownership in Indian Territory and Oklahoma. The relationship between social and economic institutions in American history lies at the core of Tracey Deutsch’s work, focusing particularly on twentieth century women’s, social, and urban history and the history of American political economy. She teaches the history of consumer culture, women’s history, the history of American capitalism, and business history. Malinda Alaine Lindquist is currently writing a cultural history of black manhood in the United States. Teaching interests include African-American gender history; the international history of race; African-American intellectual history; race, class, and gender in the human sciences; and interracial encounters in the United States. Kevin Murphy's research and teaching focuses on the interconnected histories of gender, sexuality, and politics in the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries. He is completing a manuscript entitled Red-Bloods and Mollycoddles: Political Manhood in New York City, 1877-1917, and has begun research on a second book project on the influence of European sexual, social, and political thought on Progressive-era reform ideology and practice in the United States.
With more than a dozen historians working in the area of women's history, Minnesota has become a leading center in this field. Tracey Deutsch, Elaine May, Lisa Norling, and Barbara Welke, study women and gender relations in the U.S. as their main focus of research; Sally Kohlstedt in History of Science and Technology has also done work focused primarily on women. In addition, several other U.S. historians are active in our Comparative Women's History Program. Moreover, graduate students in U.S. history have access to faculty and other students in women's history in the fields of Asian, African, Latin American, and European history. Many of them also participate in the Center for Advanced Feminist Studies where they may take an interdisciplinary minor in Feminist Studies.
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In Fall 2013, HIST 3959 - How to Do History was taught by Prof. Donna Gabaccia with a focus on digital history research projects. One additional feature of HIST 3959 this fall was that six graduate students earned graduate credit by working with the undergraduate groups as "project managers."
Here is a sample of innovative projects from class:
The Pacific Railroad Surveyors
Jewish Life in 1930s/40s Minneapolis
Why Public Education?
Rustication in the Chinese Cultural Revolution
Early Scandinavian Cartography
Korea, Forgotten War?
Political Leadership and Masculinity
Demetri Debe has received an Interdisciplinary Doctoral Fellowship from the Graduate Student Services and Progress Office for research at Institute for Advanced Study (IAS)April 25th, 2013