Robert D. Johnston

Associate Professor of History and Director of the Teaching of History Program


curriculum vitae (pdf)

Robert Johnston specializes in the Progressive Era, post-1970 U.S. history, and the history of medicine.  His The Radical Middle Class: Populist Democracy and the Question of Capitalism in Progressive Era Portland, Oregon (Princeton University Press, 2003) received the President’s Book Award from the Social Science History Association. He is currently working on a book that will explore the history of controversies over vaccination in American history, to be published by Oxford University Press.  He has also edited or co-edited volumes on the history of twentieth-century alternative medicine, rural politics, and (with UIC’s Burt Bledstein) the American middle class.  An extensive writer on historiographical issues, his latest such essays are  “The Possibilities of Politics: Democracy in America, 1877 to 1917” in Eric Foner and Lisa McGirr, eds., American History Now (Temple University Press/American Historical Association, 2011) and “The Madison Moment: Labor Historians as Public Intellectuals during the Wisconsin Labor Crisis,” Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas, 9(Summer 2012): 7-24. He has presented lectures and led seminars in Israel, Turkey, Norway, Vietnam, Hong Kong, China, and England.  He co-chairs the department’s WRGUW Ph.D. concentration, serves as interim director of UIC’s Jewish Studies program, and recently became co-editor of the Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.

Recipient of the department’s 2011 Shirley Bill Award for excellence in teaching, and the university’s Teaching Recognition Program award in 2007 and 2013, Johnston teaches courses in modern U.S. history and general historiography as well as on the teaching of history.  As director of UIC’s Teaching of History program, Johnston works extensively with both pre-service as well as current teachers.  He has served as the academic director for three U.S. Department of Education Teaching American History grants and has participated in more than twenty other TAH projects.  He regularly presents professional development workshops at the Newberry Library, serves as a consultant for the Social Science 3.0 initiative in the Chicago Public Schools, and is the UIC Chancellor’s representative on the board of the Chicago Metro History Education Center (History Fair). He is also author of The Making of America: The History of the United States from 1492 to the Present (National Geographic Society, 2002; second ed., 2010), a textbook for middle school and early high school students that received a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year award.

Johnston serves on the representative assembly for UIC’s new faculty union, UIC United Faculty. He lives with his wife Anne and sons Sandy and Isaac in Chicago’s West Rogers Park neighborhood, where he is on the board of the Warren Park Youth Baseball Little League and roots for the Cubs.