Julia F. Irwin is an associate professor of history at the University of South Florida. Her research focuses on the place of humanitarian aid in twentieth-century U.S. foreign relations. Her first book, Making the World Safe: The American Red Cross and a Nation’s Humanitarian Awakening (2013), is a history of U.S. international relief efforts during the World War I era; the dissertation on which it is based won the Betty M. Unterberger Dissertation Prize from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. She is now writing a second book, "Catastrophic Diplomacy: A History of U.S. Responses to Global Natural Disasters." This book will analyze how U.S. State Department agencies, branches of the U.S. military, American charities and relief organizations, and the American public have responded to foreign disasters caused by tropical storms, earthquakes, floods, and other natural hazards throughout the twentieth century. Her work has also appeared in The Journal of American History, The American Historian, Diplomatic History, First World War Studies, The Bulletin of the History of Medicine, The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, Moving the Social, History of Education Quarterly, and Nursing History Review.
This talk examines the history of U.S. foreign disaster assistance in the 20th century. More specifically, it considers the ways that the U.S. government, military, and private organizations have historically responded to major natural disasters abroad, as well as the political and diplomatic implications of these humanitarian efforts.