Gilder Lehrman NEH Chair of Civil War Era Studies and History
Civil War Era Studies
Phone(717) 337 - 6569
PhD Columbia University, 2005
MA Columbia University, 2001
BA University of Pennsylvania, 1995
Other Harvard University, 2016
Civil War Era Studies, History of Medicine and Public Health, African-American Studies, and Gender and Sexuality Studies
Jim Downs is the Gilder Lehrman-National Endowment for the Humanities Professor of Civil War Era Studies and History. He is the author of Sick From Freedom: African American Sickness and Suffering during the Civil War and Reconstruction (Oxford UP, 2012), Stand By Me: The Forgotten History of Gay Liberation (Basic Books, 2016) and Maladies of Empire: How Colonialism, Slavery, and War Transformed Medicine (Harvard UP, 2021).
He has edited four anthologies, including Beyond Freedom: Disrupting the History of Emancipation, coedited with David Blight (University of Georgia Press, 2017) and Connexions: Histories of Race and Sex in North America (University of Illinois Press, 2016) coedited with Jennifer Brier and Jennifer Morgan.
Downs is the co-series editor with Catherine Clinton of History in the Headlines, at the University of Georgia Press, and recently published Voter Suppression in U.S. Elections, which grew out of a conversation he moderated with Stacey Abrams, Carol Anderson, Kevin M. Kruse, Heather Cox Richardson and Heather Ann Thompson.
He has published articles and essays in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Slate, Vice, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The L.A. Review of Books, among others. Downs has published book chapters in number of edited volumes, most recently in Remembering the Memphis Massacre: An American Story (UGA Press, 2020).
In 2015-16, Downs was awarded an Andrew W. Mellon New Directions Fellowship that allowed him to return to graduate school where he gained postgraduate training in medical anthropology at Harvard University. He earned his PhD in History at Columbia University, his MA in American Studies also at Columbia University, and his BA in American Literature at the University of Pennsylvania. The Organization of American Historians named him a Distinguished Lecturer in 2014-17, which was then renewed in 2017 and again in 2020.
Book Maladies of Empire: How Colonialism, Slavery, and War Transformed Medicine Harvard University Press, 2021
Book Sick From Freedom: African American Sickness and Suffering during the Civil War and Reconstruction Oxford University Press, 2012
Book Beyond Freedom: Disrupting the History of Emancipation University of Georgia Press, 2017
Book Voter Suppression in U.S. Elections University of Georgia Press, 2020
Book Connexions: Histories of Race and Sex in North America University of Illinois Press, 2016
Article How the Origins of Epidemiology Are Linked to the Transatlantic Slave Trade Time
Article The Gay Marriages of a Nineteenth-Century Prison Ship The New Yorker
Article The Epidemics America Got Wrong The Atlantic