Alison Clark Efford (PhD, Ohio State, 2008) is an historian of immigration and the nineteenth-century United States. Questions of race and power stand at the center of her work, which typically intertwines cultural, social, and political narratives. Her first book, German Immigrants, Race, and Citizenship in the Civil War Era (Cambridge University Press, 2013), explored how German Americans contributed to the rise and fall of white commitment to black rights. Its transnational approach to the post-war period garnered particular attention.
Dr. Efford continues to publish on race and immigration, with recent essays in The Journal of the Civil War Era and The Gettysburg Address: Perspectives on Lincoln’s Greatest Speech (ed. Sean Conant, Oxford University Press, 2015). She has also contributed to the Encyclopedia of Milwaukee and is completing a short study of a scandal concerning the sale of American rifles to the French in 1870. Her main focus at the moment, however, is a project that uses the extensive documentation of suicide in the late nineteenth century to illuminate the emotional experience of migration. Immigrants ended their own lives for deeply personal reasons, but they acted in response to shared dislocations and in light of shared understandings of failure and despair.
Dr. Efford enjoys bringing her perspective as a native New Zealander to the classroom, regularly teaching surveys of US history and upper-division courses on immigration and on the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. She works with graduate students who research immigration, race, and other aspects of US culture, society, and politics.