Souther PhotoI am a Professor of History and Director of the Center for Public History + Digital Humanities (CPHDH) at Cleveland State University.

View my Curriculum Vitae.

I specialize in 20th-century U.S., urban, and public history. My digital and public history scholarship includes a number of collaborative oral history-based digital projects undertaken through CPHDH. The Center’s flagship project Cleveland Historical, an award-winning smartphone app that curates Cleveland on the web and mobile apps, represents an outgrowth of years of collaborative scholarship with Dr. Mark Tebeau (Arizona State University) rooted in our earlier Euclid Corridor History Project, a virtual linear history museum found at 19 touchscreen transit kiosks along Cleveland’s Euclid Avenue. With funding from the NEH Office of Digital Humanities and Cleveland State University, we launched Curatescape, a mobile framework designed to scale up our mobile app project nationwide. To date, more than 50 institutions and organizations–from California to Rhode Island to Kenya to Australia–have adopted Curatescape. I am project co-director with Dr. Meshack Owino for Curating Kisumu: Adapting Mobile Humanities Interpretation in East Africa, which originated with an NEH Office of Digital Humanities start-up grant. (See NEH white paper.) The project collaboration with Maseno University in Kenya is ongoing. In addition, the Center’s Cleveland Regional Oral History Collection has grown to more than 1,000 interviews that encompass many facets of life in 20th-century Cleveland. The collection now appears in a more user-friendly form, Cleveland Voices, powered by Omeka.

My current traditional research includes Believing in Cleveland: Managing Decline in ‘The Best Location in the Nation’  (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, forthcoming November 2017). This book explores how perceptions molded responses to decline in postwar Cleveland. I have also also completed a book chapter (under consideration) that examines the history of Jewish suburbanization in Cleveland between the 1930s and 1970s. My most recent publications are a Journal of Urban History article (2015) on efforts to revive Cleveland’s image in the 1960s-70s, and a Journal of Planning History article (2015) on Cleveland’s failed 1950s downtown subway plan. I am also the author of New Orleans on Parade: Tourism and the Transformation of the Crescent City (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2006 {cloth}, 2013 {paper, ebook}), winner of the Kemper and Leila Williams Prize in Louisiana History and the Michael V. R. Thomason Book Award on Gulf South History. I am co-editor (with Nicholas Dagen Bloom) of American Tourism: Constructing a National Tradition (Chicago: Center for American Places at Columbia College; University of Chicago Press, 2012). Other scholarly articles include “Acropolis of the Middle-West: Decay, Renewal, and Boosterism in Cleveland’s University Circle,” in the Journal of Planning History (2011), as well as additional articles and essays in the Journal of American HistoryJournal of Urban HistoryPlanning PerspectivesLouisiana History; Richard D. Starnes, ed., Southern Journeys: Tourism, History, and Culture in the Modern South (University of Alabama Press); Reviews in American History; and the Encyclopedia of Recreation and Leisure in America, ed. Gary S. Cross (Scribner’s). My article “Making the Birthplace of Jazz: Tourism and Musical Heritage Marketing in New Orleans,” originally published in Louisiana History in 2003, appears in adapted form in Louisiana Legacies, a 2013 anthology from Wiley-Blackwell.

In addition to my digital and traditional scholarship, I serve on the Graduate Faculty and am among the core faculty of the Museum Studies specialization within CSU’s M.A. program in History. I have coordinated more than 60 internships for CSU students at more than two dozen museums and other history institutions and organizations regionally and nationally in the past fourteen years. I also care deeply about historic preservation, serving on the Cleveland Heights Landmark Commission and having authored two successful National Register nominations of districts in Cleveland Heights, Ohio: Grant Deming’s Forest Hill Historic District, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010, and Mayfield Heights Historic District in 2015.

A native of Gainesville, Georgia, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, I earned my B.A. in History at Furman University (1994), my M.A. in History at the University of Richmond (1996), and my Ph.D. in History at Tulane University (2002). I joined the faculty at Cleveland State University in 2003.