James B. LaGrand
Professor of American History & Director of the First-Year Core Course
Modern American Political and Social History, Urban History, Public History, Native American History
Office: 264 Boyer Hall
Phone: 717-766-2511 x 7381
- Ph.D., U.S. History, Indiana University, 1997
- M.A., U.S. History, Indiana University, 1992
- B.A., History, Calvin College, 1990
James B. LaGrand is a historian of modern America. He teaches a wide range of courses on American history since the mid-nineteenth century, and his research and writing focuses on the intertwining of political and social history during this time. He serves as a referee, editorial reviewer, and consultant for journals, scholarly presses, and textbooks. Before moving to Pennsylvania to teach at Messiah College in 1997, he lived in Boston; Ottawa, Canada; Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Bloomington, Indiana. He and his wife, Betsy, and their three children live in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.
- U.S. History, 1865-present syllabus
- U.S. History, 1890-1945 syllabus
- U.S. History, 1945-present syllabus
- The Vietnam War syllabus
- U.S. Urban History syllabus
- African-American History since 1865 syllabus
- Native American History syllabus
- The American West syllabus
- Public History syllabus
- Nationalism and its Discontents in Modern America syllabus
- My Country, Right or Wrong? America and its Critics
- Historical Methods (History sophomore seminar) - Fall 2014
- Historiography and the Philosophy of History (History senior seminar)
- Created and Called for Community (first-year core course)
- The Wages of Sin is Death: Breaking Bad as the New American Tragedy syllabus
- Indian Metropolis: Native Americans in Chicago, 1945-75. Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 2002. Paperback edition: 2005.
- "The Problems of Preaching through History." In Confessing History: Explorations in Christian Faith and the Historian's Vocation, edited by John Fea, Jay Green, and Eric Miller. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 2010. pp. 187-213.
- "Indian Work and Indian Neighborhoods: Adjusting to Life in Chicago during the 1950s." In Enduring Nations: Native Americans in the Midwest, edited by R. David Edmunds. Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 2008.
- "Urban Indians in the U.S. and Indian Identity: An Examination of Chicago from the 1940s through the 1970s." In Not Strangers In These Parts: Urban Aboriginal Peoples, edited by David Newhouse and Evelyn Peters. Ottawa: Policy Research Initiative, 2003. Translated and published in French as "L'identité amérindienne urbaine dans une grande ville des États-Unis: Le Cas de Chicago des Années 1950 aux années 1970." In Des Gens D'ici: Les Autochtones en Milieu Urbain.
- "Whose Voices Count? Oral Sources and Twentieth-Century American Indian History." American Indian Culture and Research Journal 21:1 (Winter 1997): 73-105.
- "The Changing 'Jesus Road': Protestants Reappraise American Indian Missions in the 1920s and 1930s." Western Historical Quarterly 27 (Winter 1996): 479-504.
- "Bob Dylan's Benediction for Today's Graduates," The Federalist (May 19, 2014)
- "Fifty Years Later, We're Still Fighting the War on Poverty," Harrisburg Patriot-News (January 10, 2014)
- "Breaking Bad for Christians: A Morally Ordered Show," Patheos (October 15, 2012)
- "Reconsidering 'The Wizard of Tuskegee,'" First Principles (September 9, 2009)
- "Martin Luther King's 'Letter from Birmingham Jail' Across the Generations," Association for Core Texts and Courses (ACTC) annual conference, Ottawa, Canada, April 2013.
- "Is there a Place for the Nation in Modern American History?" Calvin College History Department Colloquia Series, March 2012.
- "The Promise and Problems of Progressivism in Industrial America," Center for Vision and Values Lecture Series, Grove City College, March 2012.
- "Protestant-Inspired Reform in the City: The Search for Solidarity and Connection," Conference on Faith and History biennial meeting, George Fox University, October 2010.
- "The West in American Life, Culture, and Politics," State Department Summer Institute for University Teachers, Grantham PA, July 2007.
- "The Beginnings of Chicago's American Indian Community," Conference on Illinois History annual meeting, October 2005.
James is currently working on a project entitled "Reform in the American Grain: The Idea of the Nation in Modern Social Movements" which explores the role played by American nationalism and national identity in various social movements--including the labor movement, anti-war movements, the civil rights movement, and the New Left and New Right. A second project focuses on the progressive movement from early-twentieth-century America and the ways in which its themes of connection, solidarity, and moral reform continue to be heard in contemporary social, political, and religious life.