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Michael Pfeifer
Position: Professor
Campus Affiliation: Graduate Center|John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Phone: (212) 237-8856
Research Interests: U.S. Legal, Social, and Cultural History; Global History of Violence
Michael Pfeifer's teaching and research interests revolve around the history of American and global collective violence and criminal justice, the social history of American Catholicism, the social history of orchestral performance in the United States, and the social and cultural history of American regions, including the South and the West.  He is the author of Rough Justice: Lynching and American Society, 1874-1947 (University of Illinois Press, 2004), The Roots of Rough Justice: Origins of American Lynching (University of Illinois Press, 2011), and the editor of Lynching Beyond Dixie: American Mob Violence Outside the South (University of Illinois Press, 2013), Global Lynching and Collective Violence, Volume One: Asia, Africa, and the Middle East (University of Illinois Press, 2017) and Global Lynching and Collective Violence, Volume Two: The Americas and Europe (University of Illinois Press, 2017).  Prof. Pfeifer has also published numerous articles, including “At the Hands of Parties Unknown?: The State of the Field of Lynching Studies,” The Journal of American History, Vol. 101, no. 3 (December 2014), 832-846, “The Northern United States and the Genesis of Racial Lynching: The Lynching of African Americans in the Civil War Era,” The Journal of American History, Vol. 97, no. 3 (December 2010), 621-635, and “The Strange Career of New Orleans Catholicism: Race and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, 1905-2006,” Louisiana History, Vol. LVIII, no. 4 (Winter 2017), 61-94).  U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana cited his book Rough Justice and entered his list of Louisiana lynchings into the Congressional Record on June 13, 2005, as she introduced Senate Resolution 39, which apologized to lynching victims and their descendants for the U.S. Senate’s historical failure to pass anti-lynching legislation.  Professor Pfeifer is currently finishing a study of regional and transnational cultures in the history of of American Catholicism, The Making of American Catholic Worlds: Catholicism, Region, and American Society, which is under contract with New York University Press.  He has also begun work on a book-length study of the role of Alaska in the history of the interaction of American and Russian cultures. He also serves as a book review editor for H-Law, the H-Net Humanities Social Science On-line discussion network sponsored by the American Society for Legal History. Professor Pfeifer served as Fulbright professor at Erfurt University in Germany in 2014.

Porofessor Pfeifer was  quoted in this piece on the Lynching of Native Americans published by the Voice of America:

More recently, he published "Interconnected Histories of Race, Violence, and Policing in America" on the History News Network 


The Making of American Catholic Worlds: Transnational Catholicism, Region, and American Society (New York University Press, forthcoming).
Global Lynching and Collective Violence (2 vols), editor and contributor (University of Illinois Press, 2017)

Rough Justice: Lynching and American Society, 1874-1947. University of Illinois Press, 2004 (245 pages). Paperback edition, 2006.

The Roots of Rough Justice: The Origins of Lynching in the United States. University of Illinois Press. 2011. 

Lynching beyond Dixie: American Mob Violence outside the South. (editor) University of Illinois Press, 2013.

Articles and Book Chapters

 “The Strange Career of New Orleans Catholicism: Race and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, 1905-2006.” Louisiana History, Vol. LVIII, No. 4 (Winter 2017), 61-94.

“At the Hands of Parties Unknown?: The State of the Field of Lynching Studies.” The Journal of American History, Vol. 101, no. 3 (December 2014), 832-846.

“Final Thoughts on the State of the Field of Lynching Scholarship.”
The Journal of American History, Vol. 101, no. 3 (December 2014), 859-860.

“The Bitter Seed of Albion and Eire: Extralegal Violence and Law  in the Early Modern British Isles and the Origins of American Lynching.” in Manfred Berg and Simon Wendt, eds., Globalizing Lynching History: Vigilantism and Extralegal Punishment from an International Perspective  (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011).

“The Lynching of Slaves: Race, Law, and the White Community in the Antebellum South,”  in Louis Kyriakoudes, Michele Gillespie, Susanna Delfino, eds., The Transformations of Southern Society, 1790-1860 (University of Missouri Press, 2011). 

“The Northern U.S and the Genesis of Racial Lynching: The Lynching of African-Americans in the Civil War Era.”  The Journal of American History, Vol. 97, no. 3 (December 2010), 621-635. 

"The Origins of Postbellum Lynching: Collective Violence in Reconstruction Louisiana."
Louisiana History, Vol. L, No. 2 (Spring 2009), 189-201.

"The 1857 Eastern Iowa Vigilante Movement: Law, Society, and Violence in the Antebellum Midwest." The Annals of Iowa, Vol. 64, no. 2 (Spring 2005), 139-166.

"Wisconsin's Last Decade of Lynching, 1881-1891: Law and Violence in the Postbellum Midwest." American Nineteenth Century History, Vol. 6, no. 3 (September 2005), 227-239.  Subsequently republished in William D. Carrigan, Lynching Reconsidered: New Perspectives in the Study of Mob Violence, Routledge Press, 2008.

"'Midnight Justice': Lynching and Law in the Pacific Northwest." Pacific Northwest Quarterly, Vol. 94, no. 2 (Spring 2003), 83-92.

"Lynching and Criminal Justice: The Midwest and West as American Regions, 1874-1947." Western Legal History, Vol. 14, no. 2 (Summer/Fall 2001), 103-122.

"Lynching and Criminal Justice in South Louisiana, 1878-1920." Louisiana History, Vol. XL, no. 2 (Spring 1999), 155-177.

"Insanity, Sexuality, and the Gallows in Late Nineteenth-Century Iowa: The Case of Chester Bellows."The Annals of Iowa, Vol. 57, no. 3 (Fall 1998), 321-336.

"Iowa's Last Lynching: The Charles City Mob of 1907 and Iowa Progressivism." The Annals of Iowa, Vol. 53, no. 4 (Fall 1994), 305-328.

"The Ritual of Lynching: Extralegal Justice in Missouri, 1890-1942." Gateway Heritage, Vol. 13, no. 3 (Winter 1993), 22-33. 

Short Articles

“Homicide in the South.”  In James G. Thomas and Amy Louise Wood, eds.,  The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, Vol. 22, Violence.  University of North Carolina Press, 2011.      

"Lynchings."  In William A. Darity, Jr., ed., International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, 2nd Edition, 526-527. Macmillan Reference USA (Thomson Gale), 2008.

"Lynching."  In Rudy Abramson and Jean Haskell, eds., Encyclopedia of Appalachia.  University of Tennessee Press, 2006.

 "Lynchings."  In Robert S. McElvaine, ed., Encyclopedia of the Great Depression.  Macmillan Reference USA, 2003.

Book Reviews

35 book reviews in publications that include The Annals of Iowa, Annals of Wyoming, The Journal of American History, American Historical Review, Journal of American Studies, Missouri Historical Review, Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, Patterns of Prejudice, Journal of American Legal History, H-South, Journal of Southern History, New Mexico Historical Review, Louisiana History, The Historian, Journal of the History of Sexuality, Michigan Historical Review, North Carolina Historical Review, and H-SHEAR.