Department of History - Dulles Hall.
Department of History - Dulles Hall.

American History to 1877

The field of American History to 1877 provides students an opportunity to explore the social, economic, cultural, political, military, and legal history of the first contacts between native Americans, Europeans, and Africans, the founding and development of the North American colonies, the American Revolution, the constitutional establishment of the United States, and its development through the period of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Ohio State Dissertations in Early American History, recently completed and in progress

Courses in American History to 1877


Graduate courses are offered on a regular basis, with a careful consideration of the particular needs of the graduate students in residence.

  • Readings in American Colonial History and the American Revolution (785.01)
  • Readings in the History of the Early Republic (785.02)
  • Studies in Mid-19th Century American History (761)
  • Readings in the History of the United States in the Civil War Era (785.03)
  • Topics in American History to 1877
  • Seminar in Early American History (867)
  • Seminar in 19th Century American History (868)

Other courses that may relate substantially to American History to 1877:

  • Early Modern Seminar (713)
  • Studies in British History (738)
  • Readings in African American History (752)
  • Studies in the History of Religion (753)
  • Studies in Environmental History (765)
  • Studies in Military History (767)
  • Studies in Military Thought and Strategy (768)
  • Studies in the History of American Foreign Policy (770)
  • Studies in Women's History (781)
  • History of American Law and Society (774)
  • Readings in American Legal and Constitutional History (784)
  • Studies in American Urban History (788)
  • Seminar in British History (803)
  • Seminar in African-American History (875)
  • Seminar in Women's History (881)



Candidates for the Ph.D. take written and oral examinations in the year following the completion of their course work. The faculty in early American History have developed a series of lists to assist in preparing for these exams.



Michael Les Benedict (Emeritus Professor) specializes in American legal and constitutional history and the politics and law of the Civil War and Reconstruction period. He is the author of several books and numerous articles on American constitutional history and on Reconstruction, including The Impeachment and Trial of Andrew Johnson (1973) and one of the leading American constitutional history textbooks, The Blessings of Liberty (1995).

John L. Brooke works on questions in American politics, culture, and society, ranging from the seventeenth to the mid-nineteenth century. He is the author of The Heart of the Commonwealth: Society and Political Culture in Worcester County, Massachusetts, 1713-1861 (1989), The Refiner's Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844 (1994), and Columbia Rising: Civil Life on the Upper Hudson from the Revolution to the Age of Jackson (2009)  which have won various book awards, including the Bancroft Prize, the O.A.H. Merle Curti Prize, the Dixon Ryan Fox Manuscript Award, and the S.H.E.A.R. Book Prize.

Joan Cashin teaches and researches in the social, cultural, and economic history of nineteenth-century America. She is the author of A Family Venture: Men and Women on the Southern Frontier (1991, 1994), and First Lady of the Confederacy: Varina Davis's Civil War (2006) and the editor of Our Common Affairs: Texts from Women in the Old South (1996), and The War Was You and Me: Civilians in the American Civil War (2002). She presently at work on a biography of Varina Howell Davis (Mrs. Jefferson Davis).

Alan Gallay (Emeritus Professor) is an historian of Early America with a focus upon Atlantic, Southern and Native American history, he is author of The Formation of a Planter Elite: Jonathan Bryan and the Southern Colonial Frontier (Georgia, 1989) and The Indian Slave Trade: the Rise of the English Empire in the American South, 1670-1717 (Yale, 2002), recipient of the Bancroft Prize. His edited books include Voices of the Old South: Eyewitness Accounts, 1528-1861 (1994) and The Colonial Wars of North America, 1512-1763: an Encyclopedia (1996). Currently he is editing a collection of essays titled, "Indian Slavery in Colonial America," and writing a biography of Sir Walter Raleigh.

C. Mark Grimsley is the Lincoln Prize-winning author of The Hard Hand of War: Union Military Policy Towards Southern Civilians, 1861-1865 (1995) and the editor of books both of source materials and essays on the Civil War. He specializes in military history, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and racism in nineteenth-century America; he is currently writing a book on race and war in nineteenth-century America.

Lucy E. Murphy specializes in the history of the interaction of Native Americans, Europeans, and bi-racial people on the American frontier. Her book A Gathering of Rivers: Indians, Metis, and Mining in the Western Great Lakes, 1737-1832 (2000) examines the economy of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin during the fur trade and lead mining eras. She has also coedited an essay collection on the history of women in the Midwest. Murphy teaches primarily at the Newark campus.

Margaret E. Newell teaches colonial American history and the history of the American Revolution. She is the author of many articles and essays and From Dependency to Independence: Economic Revolution in Colonial New England (1998), and is currently working a book-length project on the enslavement of Native Americans in early New England.

Randolph A. Roth teaches and researches in religion, reform, and community from 1764 to 1850. He is also expert in quantitative methods. He is the author and The Democratic Dilemma: Religion, Reform, and the Social Order in the Connecticut River Valley of Vermont, 1791-1850 (1987), American Homicide (2009) and  numerous articles.  He is currently working a second volume American Homicide.

Richard D. Shiels is the author of several highly-regarded articles on American religious history. Shiels teaches primarily at the Newark campus.


Founded in 1992, the early American seminar draws together faculty and graduate students in history, art history and literature from around the state of Ohio. It meets several times a year on the Ohio State campus to discuss a research paper that has circulated among participants in advance of the meeting. John Brooke and Margaret Newell currently convene the meetings.

Click here for a complete list of papers discussed in past seminars.



Graduate study at Ohio State offers the unique opportunity for graduate students to situate their interests in early American history in a wider global context through History 713, The Early Modern Seminar, covering roughly the epoch between 1350 and 1800. A year-long readings-and-discussion course, the Early Modern Seminar features presentations of research by eight-ten scholars in a variety of regional fields. Students have the opportunity to engage in the fertile cross-regional thematic and methodological discourse that has made historical work on the wider early modern period such a critical source of innovation in the discipline as a whole. In 2002-2003 the Seminar will consider issues in "Religion." The seminar cycles through topics in military, diplomatic, and political; religious, intellectual, and cultural; and social, demographic, and economic history.




The Ohio State University Library is one of the largest public libraries in the United States, with over five million volumes and subscriptions to over 36,000 journals. It has an outstanding collection of secondary materials in American history to 1877, virtually everything published on the subject in English, and many foreign languages as well. The library also has large holdings of primary materials. It has all the material in the Early American Imprint series  on-line, as well as Nineteenth-Century United State Newspapaers, Early English Books, and many other on-line resources.  . The materials in the English Short Title Catalogue are available in microform and, in may cases, in print.

The library holds over a million titles relating to history, women's studies, African-American studies, foreign relations, and government in microform, including selected British and American newspapers. You can check out the newspaper holdings at It also holds microfilmed manuscripts relating to the American Revolution, wide-ranging microfilmed sources on American women's and family history, African American history and slavery, microfilmed and published correspondence of American political leaders.

Beyond these on-campus resources, the library is connected to a broad number of bibliographical electronic databases and on-line journals and other materials. It also has access to the Center for Research Libraries, which has a large collection of primary and secondary sources in American history, and to all the books and materials held in other Ohio research libraries, through OhioLink.

Visit the OSU Library Web site at and take a look!



Columbus is home to the Ohio Historical Society, a rich source of material on nineteenth-century Ohio, regional, and national history. Besides holding the state archives and nineteenth-century court records, it houses the private papers of Ohio political, social, and cultural leaders; nineteenth-century Ohio newspapers, catalogued by date and location of publication; city and county guides; and numerous artifacts. The Society also maintains collections of local court and other records at several regional locations and maintains historical sites around the state. Visit its Web site at and take a look for yourself!



OSU graduate students also have the opportunity to pursue scholarship in the context of the American Indian Studies Consortium, newly established at the Newberry Library in Chicago, under the auspices of the Committee for Institutional Cooperation, including leading universities from throughout the Midwest. Graduate students at CIC institutions will be able to apply for 20 months of short-term fellowships to support dissertations on topics in American Indian topics, and to attend annual conferences and more frequent work shops and seminars. For more information about the CIC, visit their Web site at

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