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

I am currently Senior Curatorial Consultant and script writer for the new Capital Jewish Museum in Washington, DC, and completing an edited volume on the history of public work in the United States with Dr. Frederick W. Gooding, Jr.

I am also working on a book project that considers the political and social meanings of Social Security as the program expanded toward universal coverage in the 1950s. 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. The core query of my work asks, how did interactions between state and society shape American experience in the twentieth century?

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.

My public history writing has been featured in The Washington Post, USA Today, The Conversation, and elsewhere. Follow me on Twitter at @EricSYellin.

Grants and Fellowships

Congressional Research Grant, Dirksen Congressional Center, 2018

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. 


“New Institutions, Better History,” Washington History 32, nos. 1&2 (Special Issue: Meeting the Moment, Fall 2020): 75-77.

“Reconstructions: Lessons for Racial (In)Justice in America.” Reconstruction and the Arc of Racial (in)Justice. Eds. Julian M. Hayter and George R. Goethals. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd, 2018.

 “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
314 Humanities Building
(804) 289-8465
(804) 287-1992 (Fax)
Areas of Expertise
Modern United States
U.S. Political and Social History
African American History