Daniel Czitrom is Professor of History at Mount Holyoke College, where his teaching focus is on American cultural and political history. Born and raised in The Bronx, New York, he graduated from Bronx High School of Science and SUNY at Binghamton, and he received his PhD in History from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Czitrom’s latest book is New York Exposed: The Gilded Age Police Scandal That Launched the Progressive Era (Oxford, 2016). It tells the story of how a minister’s moral crusade to clean up New York City in the 1890s morphed into the first sensational political investigation of the modern era and kick-started the Progressive movement. The narrative unfolds within the larger contexts of national politics, police violence, poverty, patronage, vote fraud and vote suppression. Mike Wallace, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in History for Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898, describes the book as “a walk on the seamy side of Gotham in the 1890s, peopled with brutal cops, corrupt politicians, conniving businessmen, evangelical zealots, exploited immigrants, earnest reformers, and sensational media…A tour-de-force of investigation and interpretation.” Novelist Kevin Baker says of New York Exposed, “Careful and rigorous and rigorous history, it nonetheless reads like a gripping police procedural filled with some of the most colorful and outrageous characters of our past.”
Czitrom's previous book, Rediscovering Jacob Riis: Exposure Journalism and Photography in Turn of the Century New York (with Bonnie Yochelson, New Press, 2008) is now out in a new paperback edition from the University of Chicago Press. It offers a fresh look at the Progressive era social reformer, journalist, and pioneer photographer who publicized the conditions of the desperately poor in New York. The book received wide attention, including reviews in the NY Times, LA Times, and Chicago Tribune, and it was the focus of a special feature by Robert Siegel on National Public Radio's All Things Considered (June 30, 2008). Sam Roberts in the New York Times praised the book as, "an evocative reminder both of one unrelenting individual's ability to make a difference and of the relevance of his revelations to the painfully familiar problems we face today."
Czitrom is also the author of Media and the American Minds: From Morse to McLuhan (University of North Carolina Press, 1982), which received the First Books Award from the American Historical Association and has been translated into Spanish and Chinese. He is co-author of Out of Many: A History of the American People (Pearson, 8th ed., 2015), a bestselling U.S. History college textbook. He has been an active participant in the "Texas textbook wars," opposing the organized campaign mounted by extreme right-wing conservatives to "revise" the writing and teaching of American history. In spring 2010 CNN's Ali Velshi interviewed Czitrom on his topic by, and his follow-up op-ed piece on CNN's website, criticizing the Texas school board, attracted hundreds of responses from all over the nation.
Czitrom has been deeply engaged with bringing history to wider audiences beyond the academy. From 2011-2013, he served as the historical advisor for Copper, an original dramatic series set in Civil War-era New York City and broadcast over BBC America. He worked closely with executive producers Tom Fontana, Will Rokos, and Christina Wayne, as well as series writers, and in 2013 he wrote a historical blog for BBC America keyed to each of Copper's episodes.
Czitrom has also appeared as a featured on-camera commentator for numerous documentary film projects, including the Rise and Fall of Penn Station (PBS/American Experience 2014), The Great Transatlantic Cable (PBS/American Experience, 2005), Slumming It: Myth and Culture on the Bowery (Mixed Greens Films, 2003), New York: A Documentary Film (PBS, 1999), and American Photography: A Century of Images (PBS, 1999).
Czitrom has also co-authored (with Jack Gilhooley) two original historical dramas. Triangle, set amidst the terrible tragedy of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist fire, received an Equity Showcase Production as part of the “Americas Off Broadway Festival”, at 59 E. 59 Theaters, New York, April 15-May 1, 2011. An earlier version of the play, Big Tim and Fanny, had its premiere in a 1992 production mounted by the MHC Theatre Arts department. Red Bessie, a historical drama with songs, was produced at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2003. It explores the arc of American radicalism from the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s to the McCarthyite repression of the 1950s. The Times Literary Supplement described Red Bessie as "clearheaded and humane, and more fun than might be expected of such a high-minded project."
In 2012, Czitrom was elected to the Society of American Historians. Based at Columbia University, the Society promotes literary distinction in historical writing. Its members include academic historians and professional writers of American history. He is also a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians (OAH).
- How a Police Scandal Launched Progressivism Across America. Radio Interview with Daniel Czitrom. The Takeaway. Produced by WNYC Radio, Public Radio International, The New York Times and WGBH Boston. Jun 30, 2016. Web accessed 8/10/2016.
- "The Origins of Corruption in the New York City Police Department". Daniel Czitrom. Time Magazine Website; June 28, 2016. Web accessed 8/10/2016.
- "A Crusade That Exposed New York’s Vice Economy". Sam Roberts. New York Times. May 13, 2016. Web accessed 8/10/2016.
- "MHC professor weighs in on de Blasio woes," Office of Communications and Marketing, May 5, 2016
- "Professor to give reading at Odyssey," Office of Communications and Marketing, April 12, 2016
- "Czitrom Class Shows How the Other Half Lived," CSPAN3, March 29, 2014
- "The Rise and Fall of Penn Station," WGBY, February 18, 2014
- "Dan Czitrom Speaks on Pete Seeger’s Legacy," Office of Communications, January 29, 2014
- "Czitrom speaks on WGGB About JFK," WGGB, November 21st, 2013
- "JFK far more complicated than Camelot," Springfield Republican, November 17, 2013
- "What Do, and Should, We Know About JFK?" Office of Communications, November 4, 2013
- "MHC's Czitrom is Historian Behind BBC America's Copper," Office of Communications, August 17, 2012
- "Czitrom Elected to Historian Society," Office of Communications, May 3, 2012
- "2012 Annual Meeting: Session 232: Whither the Future of the History Textbook," Historiansorg, January 19, 2012
- "Taking the Long View of a New Protest," Office of Communications, November 1, 2011
- "Czitrom Gives Historical View of Protests," 22News WWLP, October 6, 2011
- "Czitrom’s Triangle to Hit Off-Broadway Stage," Office of Communications, March 18, 2011
- "Students Examine the History of New York City," Office of Communications, January 13, 2011
- "New York Readings of Daniel Czitrom's Fire!" Office of Communications, November 16, 2010
- "Czitrom on CNN on Texas Textbooks," Office of Communications, March 22, 2010
- "CNN Opinion Piece: "Texas School Board Whitewashes History," CNN Opinion, March 22, 2010
- "CNN Interview with Ali Velshi,"CNN, March 17, 2010
- "The Battle Over Textbooks in Texas," The New York Times, March 15, 2010
- "MHC's Czitrom on the Astor Family," Guardian, December 13, 2009
- "Dan Czitrom on MHC Alumna Frances Perkins," Office of Communications, March 26, 2009
- "Woman behind New Deal gets new look," masslive.com, March 5, 2009
- "MHC's Czitrom Appears on WGBY's Watercooler," WGBY Watercooler, December 5, 2008
- "Jacob Riis: Shedding Light on NYC's 'Other Half,'" NPR, June 30, 2008
- "NPR Focuses on Czitrom's Riis Book," Office of Communications, June 24, 2008
- "The Other Half, NYT Book Review, May 25, 2008
- "Witness to the Poor, and a Grand Ship Undone," Sam Roberts, New York Times, March 9, 2008
- "Revisiting the Other Half of Jacob Riis," Sewell Chan, New York Times, February 28, 2008
- "Meribeth E. Cameron Faculty Award for Scholarship," Office of Communications, February 27, 2009
- "Celebration of Faculty Accomplishments February 25," Office of Communications, February 18, 2008
- "Dan Czitrom on Jacob Riis February 21," Odyssey Bookshop, February 12, 2009
- "Recovering the Complex Legacy of the Photographer Jacob Riis," Verlyn Klinkenborg, New York Times, February 12, 2008
- "Chicago Trib Reviews New Czitrom Book," Office of Communications, January 20, 2008
- "MHC History Prof Czitrom's Book Celebrated," Office of Communications, December 19, 2007
- "Jewry's Candid Camera," Office of Communications, May 7, 2007
- "Ferraro and Czitrom on WGBY's Watercooler," Office of Communications, April 24, 2007
- "Dan Czitrom Discusses How the Country Has Changed Since 9/11," WGBY Watercooler, April 15, 2007 (Video)
- "Czitrom to Discuss Currier & Ives," Office of Communications, February 15, 2007
- "Professor Czitrom Comments on Hollywood Activism," The Toronto Star, March 2, 2006
- "A Historian in the Theatre: A Conversation with Daniel Czitrom," College Street Journal, October 17, 2003
- "Cameras Shoot Where Uzis Can't," New York Times, September 21, 2003
- "New York Expert Czitrom Gives Gangs of New York Failing Grade," College Street Journal, January 31, 2003
- "Czitrom Contributes to Fall PBS Documentary on New York," College Street Journal, October 1999