Jerald E. Podair

I am Associate Professor of History and the Robert S. French Professor of American Studies at Lawrence University, where I have taught since 1998. I specialize in twentieth-century United States history, with research interests in the areas of urban history and ethnic and racial relations.   I am a native of New York City, and a former practicing attorney. I received my B.A. from New York University, a law degree from Columbia University Law School, and a Ph.D. in American history from Princeton University.  

My doctoral thesis at Princeton, "Like Strangers: Blacks, Whites, and New York City's Ocean Hill-Brownsville Crisis" was awarded the 1998 Allan Nevins Prize by the Society of American Historians "for literary distinction in the writing of history," and as the best-written dissertation in American history to appear that year. It was published as a book under the title The Strike That Changed New York by Yale University Press in 2002, and was a finalist for the Organization of American Historians' 2003 Liberty Legacy Foundation Award for the best book on the struggle for civil rights in the United States, and an honorable mention for the Urban History Association's 2003 Book Award for the best book in North American urban history. My articles and reviews have appeared in The Journal of Urban History , Reviews in American History , Radical History Review , Urban Studies , The Historian , American Studies , and H-Net. My current projects include a study of the civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, a biography of baseball owner Walter O'Malley, and a primary source anthology in United States history after 1877, entitled The American Conversation.

I have served as a historical adviser for documentary films and museum exhibits, as well as to the national media. I have also taught numerous summer seminars at Bjorklunden, Lawrence's "northern campus," most recently, "The Best and Worst of America's Presidents"; I am scheduled to teach "The Presidential Elections That Changed American History" there next year. I have been faculty adviser to Lawrence's Student Multicultural Affairs Committee since 1998.  

At Lawrence, I teach introductory courses in 19th and 20th century American history and American studies, and upper- level courses on the Civil War; the 1920s, Great Depression, and New Deal; the 1960s; and American race relations. I also teach, along with Professor Paul Cohen, the history department's capstone course, "The Practice of History." In this course, I supervise senior history majors on research projects that have resulted in papers presented at conferences and symposia, including Lawrence's annual Richard A. Harrison Symposium for the Humanities and Social Sciences.