Thomas Sugrue

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Thomas J. Sugrue
Nationality American
Institutions University of Pennsylvania
Alma mater Columbia University
Cambridge University
Harvard University (Ph.D.)
Notable awards Bancroft Prize (1998)

Thomas J. Sugrue (born 1962, Detroit, Michigan) is an American historian of the 20th-century United States at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is currently at David Boies Professor of History and Sociology. His areas of expertise include American urban history, American political history, and the history of race relations. He has published extensively on the history of liberalism and conservatism, on poverty and public policy, on civil rights, and on the history of affirmative action.

Early life[edit]

Sugrue was born in 1962 in Detroit, Michigan and lived there until the age of ten, when his family moved to the suburbs. He graduated from Brother Rice High School (Michigan) in 1980 and from Columbia University (Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in 1984, with a degree in History. From 1984-1986, Sugrue attended King's College, Cambridge University on a Kellett Fellowship and earned a B.A. (honours) in British History and the Doncaster History Prize of King's College. He earned his Ph.D. in history from Harvard University in 1992. He began his teaching career at the University of Pennsylvania in 1991. Sugrue has won fellowships and grants from the Brookings Institution, the Social Science Research Council, the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Philosophical Society, and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He was an inaugural Alphonse Fletcher Foundation Fellow. He has also been a visiting faculty member at New York University, Harvard University, and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris.


Sugrue's first book, The Origins of the Urban Crisis (Princeton University Press, 1996) was widely acclaimed. It won the prestigious Bancroft Prize in History, the President's Book Award of the Social Science History Association, the Philip Taft Prize in Labor History, the Urban History Association Prize for Best Book in North American Labor History, and was selected as a Choice Outstanding Book. In 2005, Princeton University Press selected Origins of the Urban Crisis as one of its 100 most influential books of the preceding century [2] and issued it as a Princeton Classic. Sugrue has also edited two other books, W.E.B. DuBois, Race, and the City (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998), with Michael B. Katz, and The New Suburban History (University of Chicago Press, 2005), with Kevin M. Kruse. He has also published essays and reviews in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, The Nation, London Review of Books, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Detroit Free Press. In 2010 he served as a guest-blogger for Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic.


Sugrue is active in civic affairs. Most notably, he served as an expert for the University of Michigan in two federal court cases regarding affirmative action in the undergraduate and law school admissions--Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger, decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003. He served as vice chair of the City of Philadelphia Historical Commission from 2001-2008. Sugrue is a popular teacher—winner of two teaching awards—and mentor to many dissertation students. He is also a well-regarded public speaker, having given more than 150 talks to audiences at universities, foundations, community groups, and religious congregations throughout the United States and in Canada, Britain, France, and Germany. His 2008 book Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in History and a main selection of the History Book Club. His most recent book is Not Even Past: Barack Obama and the Burden of Race.[1] He is now finishing a history of 20th-century America with Glenda Gilmore.

Sugrue, the David Boies Professor of History and Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, lives in Philadelphia.[2][3][4]

Selected works[edit]

  • The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit (1996, Princeton Classic Edition, 2005)
  • W.E.B. DuBois, Race, and the City: The Philadelphia Negro and Its Legacy (1998), with M.B. Katz
  • The New Suburban History (2005), with Kevin M. Kruse
  • Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North (2008)
  • Not Even Past: Barack Obama and the Burden of Race (2010)

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Diamond A.J., "Colorblindness and Racial Politics in the Era of Obama," Review of 'Not Even Past,' Books and Ideas, December 2010. [1] and McNeil D. Review of 'Not Even Past: Barack Obama and the burden of race'. Social Identities 2010, 16(6).
  2. ^ Marquis Who's Who in America, 2006, 2007
  3. ^ Contemporary Authors (Gale Publishing)
  4. ^ Nathaniel Popkin, "The Vital Thread of Tom Sugrue," Penn Gazette, May/June 2009