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Jeffrey Helgeson

Dr. de la TejaOffice:  TMH 225
Email:  jh221@txstate.edu
Phone:  512.245.2183

Curriculum Vitae

Jeff Helgeson received his Ph.D. in U.S. history from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2008. His book, Striving in Black Chicago: Ambition, Activism, and Accommodation from the New Deal to Harold Washington, examines how black Chicagoans developed a unique political culture through the everyday struggle to access housing, jobs opportunities, and political power in a city that was both “the capital of black America” and one of the most segregated and unequal places in the nation.

Dr. Helgeson’s research has been informed by his work in public history. He began his career as a research associate for the Gilder Lehrman Collection in New York City. And since 2002 he has been the administrative director of The Labor Trail, a collaborative project of the Chicago Center for Working Class Studies. The Labor Trail is both a paper map and an online interactive map of Chicago’s labor and working-class history. (For more information, please see: www.labortrail.org.) As part of the Labor Trail project, Dr. Helgeson has given dozens of tours of Chicago’s history, he has been interviewed on network and public radio, and he has appeared on the British Broadcasting Company’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” episode detailing the family history of British actress Zoë Wanamaker and their history’s relationship to the 1910-1911 garment industry strike in Chicago.


Striving in Black Chicago: Ambition, Activism, and Accommodation from the New Deal to Harold Washington, under contract with the University of Chicago Press, Historical Studies of Urban America, James R. Grossman, Timothy J. Gilfoyle, and Becky M. Nicolaides, eds.

“‘Who are you America but Me?’: The American Negro Exposition, 1940,” Black Chicago Renaissance: A Second Awakening, 1930-1970, ed. Darlene Clark Hine. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, Forthcoming).

“Chicago’s Labor Trail: Labor History as Collaborative Public History,” International Labor and Working-Class History, 76:1 (2009), pp. 60-64.

“A Brief History of North Lawndale,” The Chicago Greystone in Historic North Lawndale, Feldman, Roberta and Jim Wheaton, eds., (Chicago, IL: City Design Center, College of Architecture and the Arts, University of Illinois at Chicago, 2006), pp. 63-73.

Dr. Helgeson has also published reviews in the Chicago Tribune, Urban History, and International Labor and Working-Class History. He also has a review forthcoming in Business History Review.

Courses Taught

HIST 1310 History of the United States to 1877
History 1310 is an introduction to American civilization from the first encounters between Europeans and Native Americans through the Civil War and Reconstruction. The course focuses on central themes and issues in the development of European colonization, American growth, institutional change, cultural development, and political conflict. Themes treated in the course include: encounters and colonization; early America and the British Empire; the American Revolution; state formation in the early republic; democratic politics in the era of Andrew Jackson; technological, industrial, and transportation revolutions; social and cultural life in 19th century America; slavery, expansion, abolitionism, and the sectional crisis; and the Civil War and Reconstruction.

HIST 1320 History of the United States to 1877
This course introduces students to the major problems in modern U.S. history, particularly concentrating on social, economic, and political developments from Reconstruction to the 1980s. We will focus on the people of the United States, their responses to modern life in the industrial era, and how they transformed the nation’s domestic politics and its roles in international affairs, as well as the political paths not taken. The course will examine how individuals and organized groups sought to reform public policy and social conditions according to deeply held moral values and political commitments.