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John Fea

Photo of Professor John Fea John Fea

Professor and Chair
Early America; history pedagogy

Office: 260 Boyer Hall
Phone: 717-766-2511 x 2253


Educational Background

  • Ph.D., American History, Stony Brook University, 1999
  • M.A., Church History, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 1992
  • M.Div., Divinity, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, 1992


John is Professor of American History and Chair of the History Department at Messiah.

He is the author or editor of four books and his essays and reviews have appeared in a variety of scholarly and popular venues.  He blogs daily at The Way of Improvement Leads Home.  

John lives in Mechanicsburg with his wife Joy, daughters Allyson and Caroline, and dog Jersey.

Courses Taught

  • United States History to 1865
  • Colonial America
  • Revolutionary America
  • Civil War America
  • Teaching History and Social Studies
  • History of American Evangelicalism
  • Pennsylvania History

Selected Publications

  • The Bible Cause: A History of the American Bible Society (Under contract, Oxford University Press, 2016)
  • Why Study History?: Reflecting on the Importance of the Past (Baker Academic, 2013)
  • Was America Founded as a Christian Nation: A Historical Introduction (Westminster/ John Knox Press, 2011)
  • Confessing History: Explorations in Christian Faith and the Historian’s Vocation, co-edited with Jay Green and Eric Miller (University of Notre Dame Press, 2010)
  • The Way of Improvement Leads Home: Philip Vickers Fithian and the Rural Enlightenment in Early America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008; paperback edition, 2009)
  • “The Way of Improvement Leads Home: Philip Vickers Fithian’s Rural Enlightenment,” The Journal of American History (September 2003, 462-490).

Selected Presentations

Papers and Lectures presented at the Organization of American Historians, Omohundro Institute Annual Conference, Lilly Fellows Program in Arts and Humanities, Fort Ticonderoga Seminar on the American Revolution, Conference on Faith and History, McNeil Center for Early American Studies, New Jersey Forum, Pennsylvania Historical Association Annual Meeting, Meeting of the American Society of Church History, Annual Meeting of the Society for the History of the Early American Republic, Annual Conference of the Society for the History of Reading, Authorship, and Publication.

Current Activities

John is working on a history of the American Bible Society and a book on Presbyterians and the American Revolution.