Jim Ralph is the Rehnquist Professor of American History and Culture and has taught in the History Department since 1989. He specializes in American History, particularly the Civil Rights Movement. Jim is also the Dean for Faculty Development and Research and the director of the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Research.
Jim is the author of Northern Protest: Martin Luther King, Jr., Chicago, and the Civil Rights Movement (1993).
He has just completed a co-edited volume on the Chicago Freedom Movement to be published by the University Press of Kentucky. Jim is also at work on a history of the struggle for racial equality from the 1840s to the present in Peoria, Illinois. For a story on this project, see
His most recent publications include a foreword to Robert McKersie’s memoir of his involvement in the Chicago civil rights movement, A Decisive Decade: An Insider’s View of the Chicago Civil Rights Movement during the 1960s (2013) and a chapter “Black Church Divisions and Civil Rights Activism in Chicago,” in R. Drew Smith, ed., From Every Mountainside: Black Churches and the Broad Terrain of Civil Rights (2013).
Courses offered in the past four years.
▲ indicates offered in the current term
▹ indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]
HIST0372 / AMST0372 - The Civil Rights Revolution
The Civil Rights Revolution
A study of the quest for a more inclusive American polity in the twentieth century. The modern civil rights movement is the central focus, but this course offers more than a survey of events from Montgomery to Memphis. It explores the pre-World War II roots of the modern black freedom struggle, the impact of the heroic phase of the civil rights movement, and the ambiguous developments since 1970. This course employs a "race relations" perspective, stressing the linkages among the experiences of African Americans, whites, and other groups. 2 hrs. lect., 1 hr. disc. CMP HIS NOR
HIST0415 - Rdgs US History-Protest
Readings in American History: The Protest Impulse
An exploration of the protest impulse in American history, with particular attention given to the American Revolutionaries, Populists, and Civil Rights activists. Among the key questions to be explored are: What are the principal causes of insurgency? What is the relationship between a leader and a protest movement? Is there an American protest tradition? Why are some insurgent groups more successful than others? As these questions are discussed, we will examine the qualities of good scholarship, the role of theory in history, and the influence of political commitments on the shaping of interpretation. (formerly HIST 0410) 3 hrs. sem HIS NOR
Spring 2014, Fall 2015
HIST0500 - Special Research Projects ▹
Special research projects during the junior year may be used to fulfill the research seminar requirements in some cases. Approval of department chair and project advisor is required.
Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017
HIST0700 - Senior Independent Study ▲ ▹
The History Senior Thesis is required of all majors. It is written over two terms, with the final grade applying to both terms. The project is generally begun in the fall and completed during winter or spring. Approval is required to begin the thesis in winter or spring, and such students must still attend the Thesis Writer's Workshops that take place in fall and winter.
Fall 2013, Winter 2014, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017