Professor of History
American cultural and political history; history of New York City; American media history
Daniel Czitrom is Professor of History at Mount Holyoke College, where he has taught since 1981 with a focus on recent 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. He is the author, most recently, of Rediscovering Jacob Riis: Exposure Journalism and Photography in Turn of the Century New York (with Bonnie Yochelson, New Press, 2008), 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).
"Czitrom, a distinguished historian of old New York and a fine writer," wrote critic Philip Lopate in the Los Angeles Times, "does an excellent job of situating Riis in the larger context of tenement housing reform, a movement that had begun long before Riis arrived and had frustrated many noble reformers… He is scrupulous in balancing Riis’s idealistic and opportunistic tendencies." 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 Mind: 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 Prentice Hall, 7th ed., 2011), 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 this topic, 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’s latest project is New York Exposed: How A Gilded Age Police Scandal Shocked the Nation and Launched the Progressive Era (forthcoming, Oxford University Press, 2013). The book examines the origins, revelations, and legacies of the explosive 1894 Lexow Committee inquiry into the New York Police Department. This sensational investigation revealed how the struggle to control the city’s underworld shaped both metropolitan politics and New York’s increasingly uneasy relationship to the nation.
He is currently the historical advisor for Copper, a new 10-episode historical dramatic series set in Civil War-era New York, produced by Cineflix, and premiering on BBC America in August 2012. Czitrom has appeared as a featured on-camera commentator for numerous documentary film projects, including New York: A Documentary Film (PBS, 1999); American Photography: A Century of Images (PBS, 1999); Slumming It: Myth and Culture on the Bowery (Mixed Greens, 2003); and The Great Transatlantic Cable (PBS/American Experience, 2005).
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, an 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. Membership, which is by invitation only, is limited to 250 authors.
- "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