Raymond A. Mohl

Raymond Mohl. Distinguished Professor
email
(205) 934-8690
Heritage Hall 360J

Research and Teaching Interests: US urban history, postwar America, race and ethnicity, historiography

Office Hours: By appointment

Education:
  • BA, Hamilton College
  • MA, Yale University
  • MA, New York University
  • PhD, New York University

I grew up in the historic Hudson River Valley village of Tarrytown, New York. My first college teaching position was at Indiana University Northwest in Gary, a former US Steel company town not exactly like Birmingham. After three years, I was attracted to the Sunbelt by warn weather, recreational amenities, and a good teaching position at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. I remained there for 26 years, eventually serving six years as department chair. In 1996, I was recruited as history chair at UAB.

I began graduate school with an initial interest in early American history, but soon became interested in American urban history through courses with Professor Bayrd Still, one of a few urban history scholars in the nation at the time. Like many urban historians, I researched and wrote about nearby places. My doctoral dissertation at NU was a study of poverty and social welfare in post-revolutionary New York City. I wrote two books about race and ethnicity in Gary, and after moving to Florida I published a book and many articles about civil rights, immigration, and race relations in Miami. Coming to Birmingham led to new research and writing projects on recent Latino migration to Alabama and the American South. All of this research eventually found its way into my courses on US urban history and occasional courses on immigration history or race and ethnicity.

All of these subjects have contemporary relevance, and all of my work has reflected the connections between the past and the present. When the US Commission on Civil Rights came to Miami in 1995, it sought my testimony on the state of race relations in the city. My expertise on Miami’s diverse urban history led to service as an expert witness in important housing and election litigation in Dade County. I discovered in writing over two dozen articles on Miami’s black history for the city’s African American newspaper, The Miami Times, that the urban historian can have an educational impact far beyond the classroom. My recent article on the “Expressway Teardown Movement in American Cities,” has provided some inspiration for those involved in the Re-think 20/59 organization in Birmingham that is challenging the Alabama Department of Transportation’s plan for rebuilding a bigger, taller, and wider elevated expressway through downtown Birmingham. I have joined the group as a scholar-activist. All of this suggests that my kind of history might have some significance in the modern world.


  • The Modern American City
  • Postwar America, 1945-1963
  • American Urban History

Books:

Book Chapters:
  • "Latinos and Blacks in the Recent American South," in Migration and the Transformation of the Southern Workplace since 1945, Robert Cassanello and Colin J. Davis, eds. (University Press of Florida, 2009), 80-113.

Articles:

  • "The Interstates and the Cities: The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Freeway Revolt, 1966-1973," Journal of Policy History 20 (No. 2, 2008): 193-226.
  • "A Merger of Movements: Peace and Civil Rights Activism in Postwar Miami," Peace and Change 35 (April 2010): 258-94.
  • "The Expressway Teardown Movement in American Cities: Rethinking Postwar Highway Policy in the Post-Interstate Era," Journal of Planning History 11 (February 2012): 89-103
  • National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships, 1972-73, 1984-85
  • Founding Editor, Journal of Urban History, 1973
  • Fulbright Professor, Tel Aviv University, Israel, 1978-79
  • Fulbright Professor, University of Western Australia, 1983
  • Fulbright Professor, University of Gottingen, Germany, 1987
  • Research Fellowship, American Council of Learned Societies, 1979-80
  • Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award, Florida Atlantic University, 1992
  • A. Philip Randolph-Messenger Award for Outstanding Writing on Civil Rights, 1993
  • Catherine Bauer Wurster Award for best article on city planning history, 1995
  • Research Grant, Poverty and Race Research Action Council, 1996, 2001
  • Arthur W. Thompson Award for best article in Florida history, 1996
  • President, Urban History Association, 1997-98
  • Frederick W. Connor Prize in History of Ideas, UAB, 2001
  • Carolyn and Charles Ireland Award for Scholarly Distinction, UAB, 2005
  • Named Distinguished Professor of History, 2005
  • Michael Robinson Award of Public Works Historical Society for best article, 2009