Alice O'Connor

Alice O

Alice O’Connor is a professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a former director of the university’s Washington Center Program in Washington, D.C. She teaches and writes about poverty and wealth, social and urban policy, the politics of knowledge, and the history of organized philanthropy in the United States. Among her publications are Poverty Knowledge: Social Science, Social Policy, and the Poor in Twentieth-Century U.S. History (2001), Social Science for What? Philanthropy and the Social Question in a World Turned Rightside Up (2007), and the coedited volumes Urban Inequality: Evidence from Four Cities (2001) and Poverty and Social Welfare in the United States: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics, and Policy (2004). Before joining the university’s faculty in 1995, she was a program officer at the Ford Foundation and the Social Science Research Council and a National Science Foundation fellow at the Center for the Study of Urban Inequality at the University of Chicago. Her current research focuses on wealth and inequality in the post–World War II United States and the origins of the second Gilded Age.


  • America's Forgotten War: Fighting Poverty from the Great Society to the New Gilded Age
  • Circling the Wagons: Conservative Movement Politics and the Rise of Donald Trump *
  • Divided Democracy: The Politics of Inequality in the 2016 Election *
  • Financing the Counterrevolution: Conservative Foundations and the Rise of the New Right
  • Myths and Realities of the "White Working-Class Voter" *
  • Narrating the Great Recession: Economic Crisis and the Politics of Economic Reform
  • Narrator in Chief: Presidents and the Politics of Economic Crisis from fdr to Barack Obama
  • The Gilded American Dream: Homeownership, Wealth, and Welfare from the New Deal to the Subprime Crash

Lectures marked with a * are offered as part of the OAH's initiative, Historians' Perspectives on the Rise of Donald Trump.