OAH Distinguished Lecturer Profile

OAH Distinguished Lectureship program 40 years 1981-2021

Kate Masur

Portrait of Kate Masur
Image Credit: Sean Su

Kate Masur, an associate professor of History at Northwestern University, writes and speaks about how Americans have grappled with the long aftermath of slavery. Her latest book, Until Justice Be Done: America's First Civil Rights Movement, from the Revolution to Reconstruction (2021) was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and is the first book to describe how a broad coalition of Black and white Americans came together to fight racist laws in the antebellum North and shaped federal policy during the Civil War and Reconstruction. Masur is also the author of An Example for All the Land: Emancipation and the Struggle over Equality in Washington, D.C. (2010), and coeditor, with Gregory P. Downs, of The World the Civil War Made (2015). She has worked extensively with the National Park Service and a variety of museums to bring the history of Reconstruction to the broader public. Her writing has appeared in the op-ed pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and other venues. Her scholarship has been supported by the Hutchins Center at Harvard University, the ACLS, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Kluge Center at the Library of Congress. Masur currently co-edits, with Greg Downs, The Journal of the Civil War Era

Featured Lecture

OAH Lectures

This lecture explains how Black and white northerners came together to demand racial equality in civil rights, moving their ideas from the margins of politics to the mainstream and ultimately shaping the nation's first federal civil rights measures: the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and the 14th Amendment.
In this lecture, Masur discusses her pathbreaking research on African Americans' efforts to attend public parties at the Lincoln White House. She demonstrates that Black people made the White House a forum in the struggle for equality, and she explains how their white supporters and opponents reacted and why it matters.
This lecture explores how Grant, as president, confronted the problem of political violence -- including voter suppression -- in the former Confederacy. Drawing extensively on letters to Grant from Black and white Americans, Masur explains the various and competing pressures Grant faced, particularly in his first term as president.