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Dr. James M. Lindgren

Professor of History

Photo of James Lindgren kayakingCome visit my office and you’ll see a phenomenon that was once called “a cabinet of curiosities.” Call it “clutter” or call it “culture,” it’s the makings of a museum. Yet, I do believe that everything has some purpose in life. Mine is, in part, to study, teach, and write about the preservation and interpretation of old buildings, ships, museum curios, and “historic” places. In the mid-1980s I not only started teaching public history here, but also began working on a book series, Preserving America’s Past. While my first work examined Virginia after Reconstruction, the second focused on New England in the early twentieth century. For the last twenty years, however, I’ve been voyaging on the seas of maritime history. As I research and write more about America’s maritime heritage and preservation, I’ve integrated much of it into my courses on “U.S. Historic Sites,” “U.S. History Museums,” and “US Historic Preservation.” Blending my teaching and scholarship are three additional books: Preserving South Street Seaport, Preserving Maritime America, and what’s tentatively titled and still ongoing, “Preserving Maritime San Francisco: How a Decrepit Waterfront Became a National Park.” Google me to see if I reach home port, or if I’ve been lost at sea!


  • Ph.D., College of William and Mary, 1984
  • M.A., University of Dayton, 1977
  • B.A., University of Dayton, 1972

Teaching Areas

  • Public history
  • U.S. foreign policy
  • U.S. Civilization I and II

Research Areas

  • U.S. historic preservation
  • U.S. Historic sites
  • U.S. History museums

Noteworthy Publications

  • Books:
    • Preserving Maritime America: A Cultural History of the Nation’s Great Maritime Museums (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2019)
    • Preserving South Street Seaport: The Dream and Reality of a New York Urban Renewal District (New York: New York University Press, 2014).
    • Preserving Historic New England: Preservation, Progressivism and the Remaking of Memory (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995).
    • Preserving the Old Dominion: Historic Preservation and Virginia Traditionalism (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1993).

Other Recent Noteworthy Publications

  • Soldiers’ Memorial Military Museum, Special Resource Study (to determine its eligibility as a National Park). Chief historian and author. Submitted to Congress and posted at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/ soldiersmemorialsrs (2012).
  • “‘Preserving the Illusion of Being Transported Back into the Past’: Remaking Landscapes through Historic Preservation,” in History of the New England Landscape, Blake Harrison and Richard Judd, eds. (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2011).


  • SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities, 2005
  • G. Wesley Johnson Prize, National Council on Public History, ​1991
  • Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha of Virginia Chapter
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