Distinguished Lecturers
Thomas A. Guglielmo

Thomas A. Guglielmo

Thomas A. Guglielmo is Professor of American Studies at George Washington University. His research focuses on the social and political history of race in America. His most recent book, Divisions: A New History of Racism and Resistance in America's World War II Military (2021), won the Society for Military History's Distinguished Book Award and was a finalist for the Gilder Lehrman Military History Prize. His first book, White on Arrival: Italians, Race, Color, and Power in Chicago, 1890–1945 (2003), won the OAH Frederick Jackson Turner Award and, as a dissertation, won the Society of American Historians' Allan Nevins Prize. His work has also appeared in the Journal of American History, the American Journal of Sociology, the Washington Post, PBS.org, and Salon.com. Guglielmo has received fellowships from the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University and from the Research Institute of Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity at Stanford University.

OAH Lectures by Thomas A. Guglielmo

America’s World War II military was a force of unalloyed good. While saving the world from Nazism, it also managed to unify a famously fractious American people. At least that’s the story many of us have long told ourselves. In this lecture, historian Thomas A. Guglielmo offers a decidedly different view. Drawing from more than a decade of extensive research and stitching together stories long told separately -- of race and the military; of high command and ordinary GIs; and of African Americans, white Americans, Japanese Americans, and more -- Guglielmo stresses not national unities but racist divisions as a defining feature of America’s World War II military and of the postwar world it helped to fashion.

By focusing on naturalization law from the colonial period forward, Guglielmo's talk explores the shifting and enduring ways that ideas about race have shaped the boundaries and meaning of American citizenship.

America’s World War II-Era Blood Donor Service collected blood and plasma from millions of donors, shipped it to service personnel fighting overseas, and saved countless lives. And yet the program first excluded African American donors from taking part and then, only after a wave of protest and growing demand for blood, accepted them, but solely on a segregated basis. At least officially, Jim Crow blood policies, targeted exclusively at African Americans, remained in place for the entire war and several years beyond. This talk explores this largely untold blood story, arguing that it sheds light on the early roots of the civil rights movement and raises questions about how well Americans' popular memories of World War II capture its nuances and complexity.


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