Jim Downs is the Gilder Lehrman-National Endowment for the Humanities Professor of Civil War Studies and History at Gettysburg College. His research interests include Civil War and Reconstruction; slavery and emancipation; medicine and public health; and gender and sexuality. His most recent book is on the origin of epidemiology, Maladies of Empire: How Colonialism, Slavery, and War Transformed Medicine
(2021). Downs is also the author of Stand by Me: The Forgotten History of Gay Liberation
(2016), a history of gay life in the 1970s, and Sick from Freedom: African-American Illness and Suffering during the Civil War and Reconstruction
(2012), which examines the unexpected medical consequences of emancipation. In 2015-2017, he was awarded a multiyear Mellon New Directions fellowship and was a Visiting Fellow in medical anthropology at Harvard University. His research uncovered a smallpox epidemic which raged from 1862 to 1870 as well as the history of the Freedmen's Hospitals, the first system of federal health care. He is a coeditor, with Jennifer Brier and Jennifer Morgan, of Connexions: Histories of Race and Sex in North America
(2016). Downs has published articles in The Atlantic, The New Yorker, Slate, New York Times
, The Chronicle of Higher Education
, and The Washington Post
, among other publications, and he serves as editor of Civil War History.