Throughout my career I have devoted most of my research time to exploring the social and demographic history of African Americans. This journey began with my dissertation which used the newly available 1900 Public Use Microdata Sample to study the African American fertility transition. Because the black population in the U.S. around the turn of the 20th Century was so heavily concentrated in the South, and because my first academic appointment was at the University of Georgia, my interests in the African American experience gradually expanded beyond fertility to include other topics. With support from the National Science Foundation, my colleague Woody Beck and I constructed a new and confirmed inventory of lynch victims in ten southern states between 1882 and 1930. We used that inventory in our award winning book, A Festival of Violence, and in a series of papers some of which appeared in the American Journal of Sociology, the American Sociological Review, and Social Forces. The inventory also has been used by many other scholars in their research. My interest in southern lynching continues and I am now working on another book manuscript, Lynched. The Victims of Southern Mobs, with Amy Kate Bailey. Lynched is based on a new database comprised of lynch victims linked with their census records (also supported by NSF).
I have also done extensive research on the Great Migration of southern blacks to the North and West. This research program has been supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. Articles resulting from the Great Migration project have appeared in the American Sociological Review, Social Forces, the Annual Review of Sociology and Sociology of Education among other journals.
I enjoy teaching courses at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Recently, my undergraduate teaching has been concentrated on "The Foundations of Social Inquiry," (SOC 300). At the graduate level, I have taught regularly "Demography & Ecology," (SOC 513), and "Fertility and Mortality"(SOC 531). I have also taught special topics seminars on "Regimes of Racial Control in the U.S. After Slavery," (SOC 590) and "The Great Migration: Causes and Consequences." I serve on a large number of MA Thesis and Ph.D. Dissertation committees.
I received my AA Degree from Everett Community College and my BA, MA, and Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Washington. I held previous academic appointments at the University of Georgia (1981-1988) and The University at Albany - State University of New York (1988-2000). From 2003 through 2008 I served as Chair of the UW Department of Sociology. From 2010 through 2013 I was Editor of Demography, the flagship journal of the Population Association of America.