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.


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


  • John Stoner