Michael McGerr

Chair, Department of History

Paul V. McNutt Professor, Department of History

Adjunct Professor, Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies

Department of History

  • mmcgerr@indiana.edu for personal contact; histchr@indiana.edu for administrative contacts
  • (812) 855-6113
  • Ballantine Hall 862
    1020 E Kirkwood Ave
    Bloomington, IN47405
  • Office Hours
    T uesday
    1:30-2:45p, and by appointment
IU; IU Bloomington

Full Biography

I am a historian of the modern United States, with particular interest in issues of power, ideology, culture, and the relationship of public and private life. My first book, The Decline of Popular Politics: The American North, 1865-1928 (Oxford University Press), is a social and cultural history of the transformation of grass-roots political participation. My most recent book, A Fierce Discontent: The Rise and Fall of the Progressive Movement in America, 1870-1920 (The Free Press/Simon & Schuster), traces the origin of modern liberalism to the transformation of the intimate, daily lives of the different social classes in industrial United States. I am currently writing ‘The Public Be Damned’: The Vanderbilts and the Unmaking of the Ruling Class (forthcoming, Farrar, Straus, & Giroux), a study of seven generations of what was once the wealthiest family in the world.

Honors and Awards

  • Distinguished Visiting Scholar, University System of Taiwan
  • Distinguished Lecturer, Organization of American Historians
  • Sylvia E. Bowman Teaching Award, Indiana University
  • Fellowship, National Endowment for the Humanities

Research Interests

  • Modern American history
  • American political, cultural, and social history


  • Ph.D. at Yale University, 1984

Courses Taught

  • American Pleasure Wars
  • War in Modern American History
  • From Ragtime to Rap: Popular Music in the Making of Modern America
  • The U.S. in the Age of Terror, 1989 to the Present
  • Bill Gates & John D. Rockefeller: Big Business & American Culture
  • Introduction to Modern U.S. History (graduate)



  • A Fierce Discontent: The Rise and Fall of the Progressive Movement in America, 1870-1920. New York: The Free Press/Simon & Schuster, 2003; Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2005. [selection of The History Book Club]
  • Co-authored with James Oakes, Jan Lews, Nick Cullather, and Jeanne Boydston] Of the People: A History of the United States.  New York and London: Oxford University Press, 2009.  Previous edition: Making a Nation: A History of the United States. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall/Pearson Education, 2002/2003.
  • The Decline of Popular Politics: The American North, 1865-1928. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1986/1988.


  • “The Price of the ‘New Trans-National History.’” American Historical Review (October 1991): 1056-67.
  • “Political Style and Women’s Power, 1830-1930.” Journal of American History (December 1990): 864-85.