James Oliver Horton

James Oliver Horton

Benjamin Banneker Professor Emeritus of American Studies and History
Faculty: Emeriti
Address: 2108 G Street
Phone: 202-994-7368

Areas of Expertise

social history, African American history


James Oliver Horton is the Benjamin Banneker Professor of American Studies and History at George Washington University and Historian Emeritus of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History. In 1993 he was appointed by Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt to serve on the National Park System Advisory Board and in 1996 he was elected board chair. In 1994-5 he served as Senior Advisor on Historical Interpretation and Public Education for the Director of the National Park Service.

Professor Horton was elected President of the Organization of American Historian, serving 2004-2005. Also in 2005 the Afro-American Museum of Boston presented him with its “Living Legend Award” and he received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Wagner College. He Senior Fulbright Professor of American Studies at the University of Munich in Germany (1988-89) and Fulbright Distinguished John Adams Chair in American Studies, University of Leiden, in the Netherlands in the fall 2003. He has held several presidential appointments, serving on the White House Millennium Council and as a member of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, appointed by President William Clinton in 2000.

Professor Horton has been recognized for teaching excellence, receiving the Trachtenberg Distinguished Teaching Award for George Washington University in 1994 and the Carnegie Foundation, CASE Professor of the Year Award for the District of Columbia, in 1996. He has published ten books, most recently The Landmarks of African American History in 2005, Slavery and the Making of America (Oxford University Press, 2004) the companion book for the WNET PBS series of the same which aired in February of 2005, coauthored with Lois E. Horton and Slavery and Public History: The Tough Stuff of American Memory, edited in 2006 with Lois E. Horton.

Professor Horton has been historical consultant to, and appeared in, numerous film and video productions including those seen on ABC, PBS, the Discovery Channels, C-Span TV, and the History Channel. For three years during the 1990s he was a regular panelist on The History Channel's weekly program, "The History Center" and his historical commentary on the Civil War is included in the DVD version of the movie "Glory." In February, 2002 he hosted The History Channel special “A Fragile Freedom: African American Historic Sites,” based on his scholarship. He was also historical advisor for the 2005 History Channel series, “Ten Days That Unexpectedly Changed America,” which recently won the Emmy Award for best nonfiction TV series. In 2006 Professor Horton was elected to the National Academy of Arts and Sciences and received the George Washington University President’s Medal for scholarly achievement and teaching excellence.


History Exhibitions:

"Free at Last: A History of the Abolition of Slavery," a traveling exhibit curated with David Brion Davis, opened Fall, 1997 at Fifth/Third Bank Exhibition Gallery, Cincinnati and Independence Hall, New York City, currently touring the United States.

Chief historian for New York Historical Society=s exhibition A Slavery in New York,@ Awarded the Crystal Apple which has just received an award as best exhibit in New York City in 2005.

Chief historian for New York Historical Society's exhibition A New York Divided.@ (2006-2007)


Slavery and Public History: The Tough Stuff of American Memory (New Press, 2006), co-edited with Lois E. Horton

The Landmarks of African American History (Oxford University Press, 2005)

Slavery and the Making of American History (Oxford University Press, 2004), coauthored with Lois E. Horton. companion book for the WNET PBS series of the same name which aired in February, 2005.

Hard Road to Freedom: The Story of African America (Rutgers University Press, 2001), coauthored with Lois E. Horton. A Choice Outstanding Academic Book for 2001

Von Benin Nach Baltimore: Geschichte der African Americans (Hamburger Edition, Germany, 1999), coauthored with Norbert Finzsch and Lois E. Horton

In Hope of Liberty: Free Black Culture and Community in the North, 1700-1865, (Oxford University Press, 1997),coauthored with Lois E. Horton. Oxford University Press nominee for the 1997 Pulitzer Prize in History.

A History of the African American People (Smithmark Publishers, 1995),co-edited with Lois E. Horton; (paper edition, Wayne State University Press, 1997)

Free People of Color: Interior Issues in African American Community (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1993).

City of Magnificent Intentions, A History of the District of Columbia (Intac, Inc., Washington, D.C., 1983), Pilot Series editor.

Black Bostonians: Family Life and Community Struggle in the Antebellum North (Holmes and Meier Publishers, New York, 1979, Second edition, 1999), coauthored with Lois E. Horton.

Series Editor:

The Landmarks of American History Series, Oxford University Press. Four volumes In print:

Gary Nash, The Landmarks of the American Revolution (2003)
Nina Silber, The Landmarks of the Civil War (2003)
Page Putnam Miller, The Landmarks of Women's History (2003)

James Oliver Horton, The Landmarks of African American History (2005)