Meet Our Faculty and Staff

Karen Benjamin

benjaminAssociate Professor of History and Social Science Education Coordinator

Email: benjamin@sxu.edu

Degrees Earned

Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2007

M.A., Texas Tech University, 1998

B.A., University of Texas-Austin, 1992, Teaching Certificate: History, English, and Social Studies Composite

Areas of Specialization

U.S. History; U.S. South; Race; Education


The past is never dead. It’s not even past.
-William Faulkner

Karen Benjamin is an associate professor of history and the coordinator of the social science education program at Saint Xavier University. She graduated with a Ph.D. in History and in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the spring of 2007. Her research and teaching interests include twentieth-century U.S. history, the historical construction of race, the history of American education, and the history of the U.S. South. She received a National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2010 and a Spencer Foundation Small Grant in 2013 to support her current book project, Segregation Built to Last: School Construction and the Formation of Segregated Housing Patterns in the Interwar South.

Her research analyzes the relationship between the school construction boom of the 1920s and the development of residential segregation in southern cities, with a focus on Atlanta, Houston, and Raleigh.  She argues that during the early twentieth century, southern school boards and local planning commissions used school site selection to create residential segregation in cities where mixed-race housing patterns had been prevalent. This research project developed from a case study of a 1920s school building program in Raleigh, North Carolina, which continues to influence residential patterns in that city.  Her recent article on this topic appeared in a special issue of the Journal of Urban History (Spring 2012) that examines the broader connections between schooling and suburbanization in the United States.

Courses Offered

HIST 103: U.S. History to 1877

HIST 104: U.S. History since 1877

HIST 395: Senior Seminar

HIST 250: Southern Slavery; Southern Freedom

HIST 250: Boom and Bust: The U.S. during the Interwar Years

HIST 250: Special Topics: Ghetto Formation in Twentieth-Century Chicago (Community-Based Learning Course)

HIST 361: U.S. Urban and Suburban History

SOCSC 203: Social Scientific Thinking

FYS 175: We Are What We Buy: Consumers, Suburbs, and the American Dream (First Year Seminar)

Selected Honors

Selected Publications

“Suburbanizing Jim Crow: The Impact of School Policy on Residential Segregation in Raleigh" Journal of Urban History 30, no. 2 (March 2012): 225-246.

“Progressivism Meets Jim Crow: Curriculum Revision and Development in Houston, Texas, 1924-1929,” Paedagogica Historica 39 (August 2003): 457-476.

"The Decision to Teach: The Challenges and Opportunities of a One-Room Schoolteacher in Turn-of-the-Century Texas," Thresholds in Education 26, nos. 1&2 (2001): 18-30.