William Sturkey

William Sturkey stands in front of a brick building. He is wearing glasses, a tan blazer, and navy tie and pants.

Associate Professor of History

306C College Hall

William Sturkey is an historian of the post-1865 United States who specializes in the history of race in the American South. Most of his research focuses on the experiences of working-class racial minorities. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Modern American History, African American History, Southern History, and Historical research methods and writing.

Dr. Sturkey’s first book, To Write in the Light of Freedom: The Newspapers of the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Schools, is a co-edited collection of newspapers, essays, and poems produced by African American Freedom School students during the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964. His second book, Hattiesburg: An American City in Black and White, is a biracial history that traces the rise-and-fall of Jim Crow through the racial and economic history of a single Southern city between 1880 and 1966. Dr. Sturkey’s next book, The Ballad of Roy Benavidez: The Life and Times of America’s Most Famous Hispanic War Hero, is a biography of the legendary Vietnam War hero Master Sergeant Roy Benavidez that will be published with Basic Books in the Spring of 2024.

Beyond his scholarship and teaching, Dr. Sturkey is a deeply engaged public scholar. His writing has appeared in a variety of popular venues, including The Atlantic, The New York Times, Washington Post, and he is a regular public speaker and moderator for a variety of public-facing events. He is also an ardent supporter of K-12 teachers and has participated in numerous K-12 workshops, including those sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Children’s Defense Fund.

Dr. Sturkey is currently seeking graduate advisees in African American and Southern History. While he cannot interview all prospective applicants before they submit their applications, Dr. Sturkey encourages those interested in pursuing their PhD at Penn History to reach out with a note of introduction.

Office Hours
T, R 11am-12:30pm

BA The Ohio State University
MA University of Wisconsin-Madison
PhD The Ohio State University

Courses Taught

HIST 1179  Precious Lord, Take My Hand: America in the Sixties

Selected Publications



Africana Studies