John Brooke

John Brooke

John Brooke

Arts & Sciences Distinguished Professor of History; Warner Woodring Chair in American History; Professor of Anthropology


273 Dulles Hall
230 Annie and John Glenn Avenue
Columbus, OH

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Areas of Expertise

  • US History to 1877
  • Environment, Health, Technology, and Science
  • Power, Culture, and the State
  • Religion in History

Professor Brooke is the director of the OSU Center for Historical Research and chair of the upcoming 2021-23 Program: Crisis, Uncertainty and History:  Trajectories and Experiences of Accelerated Change. He received his B.A. from Cornell University (1975) and his M.A. (1977) and Ph.D. (1982) from the University of Pennsylvania, and between 1981 and 2001 taught at Franklin and Marshall, Amherst, and Tufts before coming to Ohio State. He was named an O.S.U. Humanities Distinguished Professor in September 2003, and served as Vice Chair of the department from 2006 to 2008. In 2007-2008 he served as the president of the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic. He was appointed Warner Woodring Chair in 2018 and an adjunct member of the Department of Anthropology in 2013.

His teaching areas include Early American History and Environmental History, and he regularly teaches the American survey to 1877, Colonial North America, The American Revolution and Early Republic, America in the Age of Jefferson and Jackson, and Global Environmental History.

Brooke is the author of four books in early American history: The Heart of the Commonwealth: Society and Political Culture in Worcester County Massachusetts, 1713-1861(Cambridge University Press, 1989) and The Refiner's Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844 (Cambridge University Press, 1994). The Heart of the Commonwealth won the Merle Curti Award for Intellectual History from the Organization of American Historians and the National Historical Society Book Prize for American History. The Refiner's Fire won the Bancroft Prize for American History and the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic Best Book Prize. Columbia Rising: Civil Life on the Upper Hudson from the Revolution to the Age of Jackson, was published in 2010 by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the University of North Carolina Press in November. It has been awarded the Dixon Ryan Fox Manuscript Prize by the New York State Historical Association and the SHEAR Best Book Prize. His latest book, There is a North: Political Crisis, Cultural Tranformation, and the Coming of the Civil War, was published by the University of Massachusetts Press in November 2019. 

While his major field of interest is American political and social history from 1660-1860, he also has a long-standing teaching interest in global environmental history.  His book, Climate Change and the Course of Global History: A Rough Journey, published in the spring of 2014 by Cambridge University Press, examines the long material and natural history of the human condition.  

As Co-Chair of the 2013-2015 CHR series on State Formations, he co-edited State Formations: Global Histories and Cultures of Statehood (Cambridge University Press, 2018) with Julia Strauss and Greg Anderson.  

He has written articles and book reviews for the William and Mary Quarterly, Annales: Economies, Sociétés, Civilisations, American Historical Review, Journal of American History, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Journal of Economic History, and Reviews in American History, among others. Brooke's  articles include “Earth, Water, Air, and Fire: Toward an Ecological History of Premodern Inner Eurasia,” co-authored with Henry Misa, in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Asian History, edited by David Ludden (Oxford University Press, 2020);  “Material Life: Bronze Age Crisis to the Black Death,” Chapter 5 of The Oxford Illustrated History of the World, edited by Felipe Fernández-Armesto (Oxford University Press, 2019); “Environmental Determinism,” in Oxford Bibliographies in Environmental Science, edited by Ellen Wohl (Oxford University Press, 2015); “Patriarchal Magistrates, Associated Improvers, and Monitoring Militias: Visions of Self-Government in the Early American Republic, 1760-1840,” in State and Citizen: British America and the Early United States, edited by Peter Thompson and Peter Onuf, (University of Virginia Press, 2013); "Cultures of Nationalism, Movements of Reform, and the Composite-Federal Polity: From Revolutionary Settlement to Antebellum Crisis,” Journal of the Early Republic  (2009); "Consent, Civil Society, and the Public Sphere in the Age of Revolution and the Early American Republic," in Jeffery Pasley, Andrew Robertson, and David Waldstreicher, eds., Beyond the Founders: New Approaches to the Political History of the Early American Republic (2004); "Ecology," in Daniel Vickers, ed., The Blackwell Companion to Colonial America (2003), and "'To be Read by the Whole People': Press, Party, and Public Sphere in the United States, 1789-1840," Proceeding of the American Antiquarian Society 110 (2000).

Professor Brooke has held fellowships awarded by the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Commonwealth Center/Institute of Early American History and Culture at the College of William and Mary, the Charles Warren Center, Harvard University, and the American Antiquarian Society.


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