James Ralph

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

 Spring 2018: by appointment
 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 http://chicagoreporter.com/the-roots-of-the-chicago-freedom-movement/.  And for a recent story about the Chicago Freedom Movement and this book, see http://time.com/5096937/martin-luther-king-jr-picture-chicago/?iid=sr-link1.

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 http://www.pjstar.com/article/20150921/NEWS/150929894/0/SEARCH

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, and injurious planning. 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

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HIST 0372 / AMST 0372 - 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. AMR CMP HIS NOR

Fall 2014

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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

Fall 2015, 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.

Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019

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HIST 0700 - 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 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019

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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
14 Old Chapel Road
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753