Carnegie Mellon University

From the 2022 Award for Scholarly Distinction citation in the 2023 Annual Meeting Awards Ceremony booklet

Joe William Trotter, Giant Eagle University Professor of History and Social Justice at Carnegie Mellon University, is a distinguished, prolific scholar of African American history, with a specialty in urban labor. Beginning with his first monograph, Black Milwaukee: The Making of an Industrial Proletariat, 1915–45 (1985), his work has challenged that of scholars who interpret Black urban history through the narrow lens of the ghetto. Instead, he focuses on labor relations between Blacks and whites,

on the working-class dimension of the Black urban experience, and on the larger political economy in which Black workers were embedded. His work has been instrumental in shaping historians’ views of Black urban life in all its complexity. Trotter’s many publications are notable for their cutting-edge scholarship and for their wide variety, bringing the results of his extensive archival research to audiences inside and outside the academy.

Trotter has compiled an outstanding record of contributions to the historical profession. At Carnegie Mellon, he founded the Center for Africanamerican Urban Studies and the Economy. He has also served as a leader, executive board member, and editorial board member of a number of scholarly associations. He is currently president of the Urban History Association and past president of the Labor and Working-Class History Association. He has been active in the Organization of American Historians and the American Historical Association. He has also been an elected officer of the Southern Historical Association, the Immigration Historical Society, and the Oral History Association—all honors that testify to his scholarly achievements and his excellent leadership abilities, as well as to the respect of his peers representing an impressive number and range of history subfields.