Charles Postel

Professor, Department of History
Social Science Single Subject Adviser

Contact Information


My teaching and research focus on social movements and politics in the United States. I am especially interested in the political ideas that have inspired radical protest and reform, as well as conservative activism. My first book, The Populist Vision (Oxford 2007), is a history of the Populist movement of the 1890s, the most powerful revolt against corporate power in U.S. history. My new book project is a history of social mobilizations of farmers, workers, women, and other activists and how they reshaped post-Civil War America. Outside the university I am interested in history education in the public schools and have been involved in collaborations with K-12 educators. I also write historical commentary for news services and other media.


Ph.D. UC-Berkeley, 2002

B. A. UC-Berkeley, 1995

Laney College 1992


Research Interests

Politics & Social Movements


Radicalism & Reform

Gilded Age & Progressive Era



Selected Awards

Bancroft Prize, Trustees of Columbia University, 2008

Frederick Jackson Turner Award, Organization of American Historians, 20008

Stanford Humanities Center Fellow, 2016-2017

Fulbright-Dow Distinguished Research Chair, Roosevelt Study Center, Netherlands, fall 2012

Ghaemian Scholar-in-Residence, Center for American Studies, University of Heidelberg, 2011-12

Roland Marchand Award for Service to K-12 Education, History Project, UC-Davis, 2007


Selected Publications


The Populist Vision (Oxford University Press, 2008)


Book Chapters:

TR, Wilson, and the Origins of the Progressive Tradition,” in Progressivism in America: Past, Present and Future, David B. Woolner and John M. Thompson, eds. (Oxford University Press, 2015)


The American Populist and Anti-Populist Legacy,” in Transformations of Populism in Europe and the Americas: History and Recent Tendencies, John Abromeit, et al, eds. (Bloomsbury Academic, London, 2015)


The Tea Party in Historical Perspective: A Conservative Response to a Crisis of Political Economy,” in Steep: The Precipitous Rise of the Tea Party, Lawrence Rosenthal and Christine Trost, eds. (University of California Press, 2012)



“Murder on the Brazos: The Religious Context of the Populist Revolt – A Case

Study,” in The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (April 2016)


“If They Repeal the Progressive Era, Should We Care?” The Journal of the Gilded

Age and Progressive Era (July 2014)


 “Response,” in “Roundtable on Charles Postel’s Book The Populist Vision,” Kansas

 History, (Spring 2009)



The Future of Work: The Coming Political Storms,” for a special project from the Center for Advanced Study in Behavioral Sciences at Stanford, Pacific-Standard Magazine, Oct 2015


Why Conservatives Spin Fairytales about the Gold Standard,” Reuters, Sept 17, 2013


Populists, Plutocrats and the GOP Sales Tax,” Reuters, Feb 14, 2013


The End of White Affirmative Action,” Reuters, Nov 16, 2012


Why Voter ID Laws are Like a Poll Tax,” Politico, Aug 7, 2012


Occupy: A Populist Response to the Crisis of Inequality,” Mittelweg 36, May 2012, in Eurozine, July 2012


Courses Recently Taught


121: The U.S. 1877-present

426: The U.S. 1877-1916

427: The U.S. 1916-1945

481: Thought & Culture in America, 1880-present

642: The Conservative Movement, 1935-present

642: Reformers & Radicals, 1865-1920 


790: Readings in Reconstruction, Gilded Age & Progressive Era History

790: Readings in 20th-Century U.S. History

790: Researching Protest, Reform & Politics