COVID-19: Essential Information

James Ralph

Dean Faculty Dev. & Research; Rehnquist Prof of American History & Culture

 Spring 2021: Tues 8:00-9:00 am, TH 4:00-5:00 pm, Fri 10:00-11:00 am (ET) and by appt. Please email to request a zoom invitation.
 Davis Family Library 225C

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 is a co-editor of, and contributor to The Chicago Freedom Movement: Martin Luther King Jr. and Civil Rights Activism in the North (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2016).  This book has recently been released in paperback.  For an excerpt from this book in The Chicago Reporter see  And for a recent story about the Chicago Freedom Movement and this book, see

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), 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), and a foreword to Martin Deppe's Operation Breadbasket: An Untold Story of Civil Rights in Chicago, 1966-1971 (2017).



Course List: 

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

FYSE 1208 - Cities in Crisis      

Cities in Crisis
“I imagine the American city to be a growing tree,” the historian Sam Bass Warner has written. “As it bursts forth each spring, it is set upon by clouds of parasites.” In this seminar we will expand upon Warner’s insight and explore how American cities have coped in the past with natural disaster, the flight of capital, racial and class tensions, injurious planning, and the COVID-19 pandemic. We will turn to case studies of individual cities in crisis, including New York City, New Orleans, and Detroit, in the quest for an understanding of patterns of vulnerabilities and resilience in urban American history. 3 hrs. sem. AMR CW HIS

Fall 2017, Spring 2020, Fall 2020

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HIST 0372 / BLST 0372 - Civil Rights & Black Freedom      

The Long Struggle for Civil Rights and Black Freedom
The modern civil rights movement is the central focus of this course, but it 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 complex array of local, regional, and national initiatives in the 1950s and 1960s, the competing strategies for empowerment offered by Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X, and developments since the 1970s, including the rise of Black Lives Matter. 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. AMR HIS NOR

Spring 2021

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HIST 0415 - 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 AMR HIS NOR

Spring 2017

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HIST 0500 - Special Research Projects      

Special research projects may only be taken during the Junior or Senior year, preferable after taking HIST 0600. Approval of department chair and project advisor is required.

Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

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HIST 0700 - Senior Independent Study      

Senior Independent Study
The optional History Senior Thesis is written over two terms, with the final grade applying to both terms. Approval is required. Students submit thesis proposals in the spring before the year that they choose to write their thesis. Students generally begin their thesis in the fall and complete it during winter or spring. Approval is required to begin the thesis in winter or spring. All students must attend the Thesis Writer's Workshops in fall and winter semesters and work with a faculty advisor to complete a 55-70 page paper. Please see detailed guidelines under history requirements.

Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022

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HIST 0701 - Senior Independent Study      

Senior Independent Study
With departmental approval, senior history majors may write a two-term thesis under an advisor in the area of their choosing. The final grade is applied to both terms. Students must submit thesis proposals in the spring before the academic year that they choose to write their thesis. They must attend the Thesis Writers' Workshops held in the fall and winter of the academic year in which they begin the thesis. The department encourages students to write theses during the fall (0700) and winter terms (0701), but with the permission of the chair, fall/spring and winter/spring theses are also acceptable. Under exceptional circumstances, the department may approve a thesis initiated in the spring of an academic year and finished in the fall of the following year. Further information about the thesis is available from the department.

Winter 2021, Spring 2021, Spring 2022

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Department of History

Axinn Center at Starr Library
15 Old Chapel Road
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753


Axinn Center at Starr Library
15 Old Chapel Road
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753