Dr. Eric S. Yellin
Associate Professor of History and American Studies

My first book, Racism in the Nation’s Service: Government Workers and the Color Line in Woodrow Wilson's America (UNC Press 2013), examines federal employment as a lever and obstacle for racial equality and social mobility in the age of progressive politics.  Spanning the period from Reconstruction to the 1920s, Racism in the Nation's Service reveals how the post-Civil War Republican patronage machine supported a growing black middle class in Washington, D.C., and how, in turn, racial discrimination in federal offices during the presidency of Woodrow Wilson implicated the United States government in the economic limitation of African Americans.

I am currently developing a new project that considers political and social perceptions of the Social Security Administration after World War II. I am interested in examining how the first generation of post-Depression recipients understood their encounter with the government program; what it meant to receive government assistance in an era of middle-class mobility; and how notions of employment, retirement, age, class, race were shaped by this interaction of state and society.

Grants and Fellowships

Project Grant, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 2015

Kluge Fellowship, John W. Kluge Center, Library of Congress, 2010-2011


2016 Distinguished Educator Award, University of Richmond

2013 Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award, University of Richmond

2011 James Madison Prize for the best article on the history of the federal government by the Society for History in the Federal Government. 


 “The (White) Search for (Black) Order: The Phelps-Stokes Fund’s First Twenty Years, 1911-1931,” The Historian 65, no. 2 (Winter 2002): 319-352.

Ph.D., Princeton University 2007
M.A., Princeton University 2003
B.A., Columbia University 2000
Contact Information
(804) 289-8465
(804) 287-1992 (Fax)
Areas of Expertise
Modern United States
U.S. Political and Social History
African American History