Faculty in the Department of History

Kyle G. Volk

Kyle G. Volk

Associate Professor of History

Office: LA 260
Email: kyle.volk@umontana.edu
Fax: (406) 243-4076 Office Hours:

Professor Volk is on sabbatical leave for the 2016-2017 academic year.

Personal Website

Personal Summary

Kyle Volk's research and teaching focus on the history of the United States, with emphasis on the long nineteenth century. He is especially interested in the history of democracy; the problem of dissent and difference in American society; capitalism, law, and the American state; civil rights, civil liberties, and the changing meaning of freedom in American life. 

Volk's research has been supported by the American Society for Legal History, the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Antiquarian Society. His first book, Moral Minorities and the Making of American Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2014), explores the pioneering popular struggles over minority rights that developed out of conflicts over race, religion, and alcohol in nineteenth-century America. Moral Minorities received two major honors from the Organization of American Historians (OAH) in 2015: the Merle Curti Prize for Best Book in American Intellectual History; and honorable mention for the Frederick Jackson Turner Prize for the Best First Book in American History. Future projects will explore resistance to government in the long Progressive era and the centrality of debates over alcohol to cultural conceptions of liberty in U.S. History.

Professor Volk advises graduate students studying aspects of U.S. History that dovetail with his own broad historical interests. His current and former graduate students work on issues ranging from patriotism, public education, racial prejudice, and disability to political economy, environmental politics, public health, and governance in the American West. Professor Volk is accepting both MA and PhD students in the next admissions cycle. Please contact him by e-mail if you are interested in working with him as a graduate student. Current doctoral students interested in preparing an examination field advised by Professor Volk should contact him early in their graduate career.

Professor Volk directs the History Department's graduate program and advises its chapter of Phi Alpha Theta (the history honor society). He founded the department's Lockridge History Workshop and continues to coordinate it each year. Volk is also a Prelaw advisor for history undergraduates and an affiliated faculty member of the African American Studies Program. He was the 2014 recipient of the Helen and Winston Cox Award for Excellence in Teaching and the University of Montana's 2015 nominee for CASE Professor of the Year. In 2015, Professor Volk was named a University of Montana Provost's Distinguished Faculty Lecturer.

Field of Study

United States History; Democracy, Capitalism, and the American State; Political, Intellectual, Social, and Legal History


PhD, MA, University of Chicago
BA, Boston College

Selected Publications

Moral Minorities and the Making of American Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2014)

  • Merle Curti Prize, 2015. (For the best book in American Intellectual History, awarded by the Organization of American Historians.)
  • Frederick Jackson Turner Prize, 2015, honorable mention. (For the best first book in U.S. History, awarded by the Organization of American Historians.)

"The Perils of 'Pure Democracy': Minority Rights, Liquor Politics, & Popular Sovereignty in Antebellum America."  Journal of the Early Republic 29 (Winter 2009), 641-679.


Reviews in Law & History Review, Journal of the Early Republic, American Nineteenth Century History, and The Journal of the Civil War Era.


American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians, American Society for Legal History, Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, Society for U.S. Intellectual History