Executive Director of the American Historical Society

Associate Faculty in History


PhD 1982 University of California, Berkeley


American Historical Association
400 A Street SE
Washington DC 20003
(202) 544-2422

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Field Specialties

The American South, slavery, US social history, American labor history, urban history


Jim moved to the AHA in 2010 from the Newberry Library, where he was vice president for research and education. He has taught at the University of California, San Diego, and at the University of Chicago.

He is the author of Land of Hope: Chicago, Black Southerners, and the Great Migration (University of Chicago Press, 1989) and A Chance to Make Good: African-Americans, 1900–1929 (Oxford University Press, 1997). He was project director and coeditor with Janice L. Reiff and Ann Durkin Keating of The Encyclopedia of Chicago (University of Chicago Press, 2004) and coeditor with Janice L. Reiff and Ann Durkin Keating of The Encyclopedia of Chicago Online. He is the editor of The Frontier in American Culture (University of California Press, 1994) and coeditor of the series, Historical Studies of Urban America (University of Chicago Press, 1992–present). His articles and short essays have focused on various aspects of American urban history, African American history, and American ethnicity. His book reviews have appeared in the Chicago Tribune and New York Newsday in addition to various academic journals. A frequent participant in the Chicago Humanities Festival, he has also spoken at the Printers Row Book Fair, and a wide variety of universities and cultural institutions locally and nationwide.

Land of Hope received awards from the Gustavus Myers Center for Human Rights and the Illinois State Historical Society. A Chance to Make Good won awards from the New York Public Library and the National Council for the Social Studies. The Encyclopedia of Chicago won awards from the Scholarly Publishers Division of the Association of American Publishers and the Illinois State Historical Society. Grossman was chosen in 2005 as one of seven "Chicagoans of the Year" by Chicago Magazine.

Grossman was responsible for the Newberry's research centers, fellowship programs, educational initiatives, and public programs. His consulting experience includes a broad variety of history-related projects (mostly films, exhibits, and research projects) by the BBC, the Smithsonian, the Goodman Theater, the Field Museum, the New York Historical Society, the Chicago Historical Society, the Chicago Public Library, the American Social History Project, Blackside, and a variety of independent film producers. 

Professional service has included elected offices in the American Historical Association, professional ethics committees for the AHA and the Organization of American Historians, and advisory boards for the AHA, the Center for New Deal Studies at Roosevelt University, the National History Center, the Illinois Historical Society, the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Chicago Public Library. He also has served as chair of the Board of the Chicago Metro History Education Center and President of the Hyde Park Soccer Club. He cochaired the Program Committee for the Annual Meeting of the Organization of American Historians in 2005.