American History Grad Students in Search of a Dissertation: Read This Post!

Are you looking for a research topic, either for your dissertation or your next book?  If so, Mark Cheathem has done you a great service.  In this post he provides a list of early republic biographies (mostly political) that need to be written. His list comes from a 1997 article by Robert Remini with some of his own additions.

The list includes:

  • John Bell (U.S. senator, Constitutional Union party presidential candidate)
  • Thomas Hart Benton (U.S. senator)
  • Francis P. Blair (Kitchen cabinet member, Democratic newspaper editor)
  • James Buchanan (President, U.S. senator, various high-level government appointments)
  • Millard Fillmore (President, U.S. representative)
  • William Henry Harrison (President)
  • Richard M. Johnson (U.S. senator, vice-president under Martin Van Buren)

Start writing!

6 thoughts on “American History Grad Students in Search of a Dissertation: Read This Post!

  1. I don't know–young people, especially feminists, those in the non-professional classes, and people of color– yearn for historical actors with whom we can identify. History is so often boring to students because not everyone can relate to white men of privilege and power. It's important to ask ourselves–Who can relate to these historical actors, and why? I'm not against these biographies being written of course, but it's good to be conscious about how the profession appears to students if white men of privilege continues to be our focus.


  2. Maybe what history needs is some biographies of privileged white men written by perceptive feminist historians. We might learn to see things in a new light.

    But as far as privileged white historical actors goes, I would rather spend a few hours in the study with William Lloyd Garrison than Louisa McCord any day of the week. (Lately I have been spending plenty of time with both.)


  3. Fair enough, but everyone has their own interests and who am I to condemn them. (Coming from someone who wrote a biography of semi-privileged white man and still enjoys being a historian).


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