Department of History

United States History

From origins as a breakaway part of Europe's far-flung colonial empires, the United States became a major global power.  This transformation has long inspired historians' efforts to understand the United States in global perspective, whether via comparison, systemic analyses, or the tracing of connections and consequences.

Recent attempts to write "international" histories of the United States remain engaged in dialogue with an enormous literature that focuses instead in great detail on the United States and its internal life. Yet even during the most isolationist periods of its national history, the United States has been connected to the world through trade, migration, cultural and ideological conflicts, intellectual and social exchanges, war, and international politics. At the same time, people around the world have been fascinated or appalled by a country they viewed through their own very distinctive national perspectives.

Thus we approach the history of the United States from local, continental, hemispheric, Atlantic, and global perspectives. U.S. historians at Pitt maintain a lively interest in the relationship of work, society, economy, and culture, and have been particularly active in the Atlantic History, Power and Inequality and World History thematic groups. While many students graduating from our program with a regional specialization in U.S. history enter teaching careers, the department takes equal pride in the number of graduates who find work in public sector, public history, or non-profit settings, using the analytical, research, and writing research skills honed in their studies here. Demand for U.S. historians who are able to place their regional knowledge in hemispheric, global, or Atlantic context is strong and keeps growing.

Recent Books

Laurence Glasco and Christopher Rawson

August Wilson: Pittsburgh Places in His Life and Plays

Ted Muller

Before Renaissance: Planning in Pittsburgh, 1889-1943

Marcus Rediker

The Amistad Rebellion: An Atlantic Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom

Rob Ruck

Raceball: How the Major Leagues Colonized the Black and Latin Game

Molly Warsh and Philip D. Morgan

Early North America in Global Perspective

Resources

Pittsburgh is a city that is proud of its own history—a history that connects this particular city to a regional, national, and global history of business and industry, labor and immigration, political movements, philanthropy, urban planning, art, architecture, and culture. 

The city’s passion for its history means, among other things, that faculty and graduate students—regardless of regional expertise—can find rich opportunities for research in local archives. Students and faculty also find a myriad of ways to contribute to the community through public history internships and employment. Public history is an expanding area of employment.

Local Resources

Faculty

Keisha N. Blain
Assistant Professor
Carolyn J. L. Carson
Coordinator, Urban Studies Program
412-648-7489
Niklas Frykman
Assistant Professor
Laurence Glasco
Associate Professor
412-648-7486
Michel Gobat
Associate Professor
Maurine Greenwald
Associate Professor
412-648-7462
Richard Oestreicher
Associate Professor
412-648-7469
Marcus Rediker
Distinguished Professor
412-648-7477
Rob Ruck
Professor
412-648-7539
Scott Smith
Lecturer
John Stoner
Lecturer
412-648-7485
Liann E. Tsoukas
Senior Lecturer