George and Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of History and Director Center Middletown Studies and Professor of History
Teaching and Research Specialties
Late 19th and early 20th-century, U.S. political; urban, ethnic
James Connolly is George and Frances Ball Distinguished Professor of History and the Director of the Center for Middletown Studies. He received his Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization from Brandeis University in 1995 and came to Ball State in 1996. His scholarship has examined various facets of American urban history, including the evolution of city politics, the development of smaller cities, print culture, and deindustrialization. He has written or edited seven books and numerous articles and essays on these topics. Dr. Connolly has received a Fulbright Scholar Award (Free University Berlin) and research grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute for Museum and Library Services, and several private foundations. He also has helped produce several digital humanities projects. His current research investigates the transition from industrial to postindustrial life in the American Rust Belt.
Dr. Connolly teaches courses on the history of American cities, reform during the Gilded Age and Progressive era, immigration history, and the history of democracy in the U.S.
Vulnerable Communities: Research, Policy, and Practice in Small Cities (Cornell University Press, 2022) [Co-editor with Dagney Faulk, Emily Wornell].
Print Culture Histories Beyond the Metropolis (University of Toronto Press, 2016) [Co-Editor].
What Middletown Read: Print Culture in an American Small City (University of Massachusetts Press, 2015) [Co-Author, with Frank Felsenstein]
After the Factory: Reinventing America’s Industrial Small Cities (Lexington Books, 2010/2012) [Editor].
An Elusive Unity: Urban Democracy and Machine Politics in Industrializing America (Cornell University Press, 2010).
The Triumph of Ethnic Progressivism: Urban Political Culture in Boston, 1900-1925 (Harvard University Press, 1998).
Discovering the Public Interest: A History of the Boston Bar Association. Canoga Park, California: CCA Press, 1993 [with others].
Selected Digital and Media Projects:
Library Circulation Histories Workshop (2021).
Everyday Life in Middletown (2017- ).
What Middletown Read database (2011- ).
Changing Gears: End of an Era (film and archive; 2010).