History Department Faculty Research Highlights 2005-2015

Faculty Research Book Collage
A research historian is a scholar who is actively involved in generating new knowledge, communicating and translating it for our students and for the larger world of historical research, and elaborating its implications for public policy, citizenship, and the understanding of human society. Since our mandate is doing this research world-wide, and in a temporal span from the Paleolithic era to the present, we have developed methods and tools to get us to our research sites around the world, and to collaborate on complex questions of human history with our colleagues worldwide.

That work is expensive and time consuming. It takes historians to the farthest reaches of the world throughout their careers, and graduate students quickly learn the arts of research and collaboration in distant societies, and for societies far removed from our own in time. We bring back from those travels and expeditions the notes, archival, oral, video materials to produce written and now frequently multimedia digital products, from books and articles, to databases, to oral presentations, to policy reports, for our world-wide audiences. Our research is why students come to UWM to study history and work with us. Some of them go out into the world to become historians as well, but all of them go out into the world, we hope, with this global vision of the society and world in which they live.

The information below is a sampling of the work of the UWM history faculty over the past decade to give a peek at what research historians do all day, every day they are on the job.

Externally-funded Research

Professor Amanda I. Seligman and Distinguished Professor Margo Anderson are the Lead Editors and co-PIs on The Encyclopedia of Milwaukee, a project in development, that will include approximately 740 entries on Milwaukee history topics in its print version, along with an expanded digital site ( project has received approximately $1.4 million in funds raised, including $250,000 from the NEH and $50,000 from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation; this is a joint research project with the History Department at Marquette.

Professor Marc Levine has received a series of grants for projects related to local and international economic development: Government of Canada, “Canadian-American Policy Research Grants,” 2005-2008: $20,000; U.S. Department of Commerce, “Applied Economic Development Research Grant,” 2005: $134,500; Helen Bader Foundation, “Economic Development Fellows Program Grant,” 2005-2008: $189,000; Ozaukee County Economic Development Corporation, “Research and Technical Assistance,” 2015-2018: $292,500; Ozaukee County, WI, “Economic Development Planning Initiative,” 2007: $50,000; Washington County, WI, “Economic Development Planning Research,” 2005: $47,000. Aurora Health Care Systems, “Economic Impact Study of Aurora Health Care Systems in Southeastern Wisconsin,” 2012: $51,000; Wisconsin Voices, “Political and Economic Analysis of Metropolitan Milwaukee,” 2013: $35,000; Greater Milwaukee Foundation, “Milwaukee Latino Community Study,” 2014: $35,000.

Assistant Professor Christine Evans has received $155,800 over three years from the Foundation for Baltic and Eastern European Studies (Sweden) for a project on the history of transnational satellite broadcasting, part of a joint research grant with Prof. Lars Lundgren from Södertörn University (Sweden).

Associate Professor Chia Vang has received $80,000 from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation for the Hmong Milwaukee Civic Engagement Project, collaborating with two community organizations, including Southeast Asian Educational Development, Inc. Prof. Vang also received $10,000 from the Association for Asian American Studies and Asian Pacific Islander Scholarship Fund to conduct the research about refugees from Burma/Myanmar and Bhutan that resulted in the report, Invisible Newcomers: Refugees from Burma/Myanmar and Bhutan in the United States, the center of a Congressional briefing in January 2014.

Distinguished Professor Margo Anderson received grants totaling $70,000 from the Census Bureau and the Department of Commerce, for deliverables including a “Report to Congress on the History of the American Community Survey,” sent to the Committee on Appropriations, U.S. House of Representatives in November 2014.

Other grants for research have come to various faculty from the American Council of Learned Societies, the Journal Foundation, the Association for Asian American Studies, the Japanese Association of American Studies, the Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe, the American Council of Germany, and the American Philosophical Society.

Book covers

Other Metrics of Research

Because externally-funded research is very limited in the humanities, history departments use other markers of research excellence, primarily scholarly publishing in print and digital formats, research fellowships, and positions as visiting scholars.

Members of the department edit three international scholarly journals, The Polish Review, The Sixteenth Century Journal, and The Journal of Global History. The latter was ranked third out of 87 history journals and has been awarded an impact factor of 0.780 in the 2014 Thomson-Reuters Journal Citation Report. They also edit three book series, Nation of Nations (NYU Press), Historical Studies of Urban America (University of Chicago Press), and Area Studies in a Global Context (Bedford).

Members of the department have in the last ten years written or edited 37 books and hundreds of scholarly articles in refereed journals, many of which have won national or international prizes. Among the noteworthy publications is the seven volume Cambridge World History (2015), for which Distinguished Professor Merry Wiesner-Hanks served as editor-in-chief, which Cambridge University Press describes as “the most comprehensive account yet of the human past, drawing on a broad international pool of leading academics from a wide range of scholarly disciplines.” Associate Professor Winson Chu’s monograph, The German Minority in Interwar Poland (Cambridge, 2012), was commended by the Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History.

Faculty have also developed award-wining digital projects. Associate Professor Jasmine Alinder is the Project Director of the March On Milwaukee Civil Rights History Project, a digital archive of primary sources and contextual materials related to 1960s Milwaukee civil rights history, which won the Philip M. Hamer and Elizabeth Hamer Kegan Award presented by the Society of American Archivists, the Award of Merit presented by the American Association of State and Local History, and the Governor’s Award for Archival Achievement presented by the Wisconsin Historical Society (

As another example of local scholarly engagement, with digital and thus international access, Associate Professor Robert Smith has worked with America’s Black Holocaust Museum for several years as its resident historian to move the now closed institution into the digital sphere – America’s Black Holocaust Museum was once a core institution in Milwaukee’s African American community. Dr. Smith has also co-authored a scholarly introduction, co-edited and annotated, with local community scholars, the re-publication of A Time of Terror, which chronicled the experiences of Dr. James Cameron as the last known survivor of a lynching in the United States. Dr. Cameron was a noted Milwaukee leader and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from UWM.

Associate ProfessorAims McGuinness curated an exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution in 2009-10 entitled “Panamanian Passages/Pasajes Panameños.” Over the course of its ten-month run, the exhibition introduced more than 500,000 visitors to the ecological, cultural, economic, and political history of a place that has crucial strategic interest for the Americas.

In the last ten years faculty have held research fellowships or positions as distinguished visiting scholars at the Huntington Library (California), Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton, NJ), Frankel Center for Advanced Judaic Studies (University of Michigan), Institute for Advanced Study (University of Minnesota), United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (Washington DC), Umeå University (Sweden), Leiden University (Netherlands), Max Planck Institut für europäische Rechtsgeschichte (Germany), Kyujanggak International Center for Korean Studies, Seoul National University (Korea), International Center for Korean Studies, Korea University (Korea), German Historical Institute in Warsaw (Poland), and Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena (Germany) Université du Québec, Montréal (Canada), Centre de recherche interdisciplinaire sur la diversité et la démocratie (CRIDAQ) (Canada) and l’Université de Paris Ouest-Nanterre (France).