William Thomas III

Professor of History and John and Catherine Angle Professor in the Humanities Profile Image
Professor of History and John and Catherine Angle Professor in the Humanities History wthomas4@unl.edu (402) 472-2414 612 Oldfather Hall


William G. Thomas III is the John and Catherine Angle Professor in the Humanities and Professor of History at the University of Nebraska. He currently serves as the Chair of the Department of History. He is a Faculty Fellow of the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities. He has produced award-winning digital history projects, and his research has been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies. His most recent book is "The Iron Way: Railroads, the Civil War, and the Making of Modern America" (Yale University Press, 2011). With Patrick D. Jones he leads The History Harvest, a partner project of the Digital Public Library of America, connecting undergraduate students with communities to digitize family history. He is currently writing a history of early Washington, D.C. and the problem of slavery and freedom in post-Revolutionary America.


I teach HIST 364: Slavery and Emancipation in U.S. History, HIST 445: Civil War and Reconstruction, the U.S. History survey course, and a variety of graduate and undergraduate courses in digital history.

  • 2012 Lincoln Prize Finalist for "The Iron Way: Railroads, the Civil War, and the Making of Modern America"
  • Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer
  • 2012 Hazel McClymont Distinguished Teaching Award, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Nebraska
  • The James Harvey Robinson Prize, 2003, American Historical Association, with Edward L. Ayers and Anne S. Rubin, for Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War
  • National Endowment for the Humanities, 2009-2011, Digging into Data Challenge Award
  • American Council of Learned Societies, Digital Innovation Fellowship, 2008
  • British Association of American Studies, Visiting Professor in North American Studies, Eccles Centre for American Studies, British Library, in Residence, London, August 2008 to November 2008
  • Editor, A Lincoln Dialogue, by James A. Rawley, University of Nebraska Press, 2014.
  • The Iron Way: Railroads, The Civil War, and the Making of Modern America, Yale University Press, November 2011.
  • Lawyering for the Railroad: Business, Law, and Power in the New South, Louisiana State University Press, 1999.
  • "Railroads and Regional Labor Markets in the Mid-Nineteenth-Century United States: A Case Study of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad," co-author with Richard Healey and Katie Lahman, Journal of Historical Geography Vol. 41 (July 2013).
  • "What We Think We Will Build and What We Build in Digital Humanities," Journal of Digital Humanities, Vol. 1 No. 1, Winter 2011.
  • "The Promise of Digital History: Interchange," Journal of American History (September 2008).
  • "Black and on the Border," co-author with Edward L. Ayers and Anne Sarah Rubin, in Gabor Boritt, ed., The African American Soldier in the Civil War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).
  • "African American Mobility After Emancipation, 1865-1867," Society of Civil War Historians, Lexington, June 2012.
  • "Valley of the Shadow Project and its Progeny, 20 years later," Panelist, American Historical Association, Chicago, January 2012.
  • "Digital Analysis of Texts: The Mobility of African Americans after Emancipation," Organization of American Historians, Houston, March 2011.
  • "Revisiting the Dead House at Fort Williams: A Story of Civil War History and Memory," Sesquicentennial of the Civil War Lecture Series on Religion and the Civil War, Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, Virginia, May 2013.
  • "Future Trends in Digital Humanities," Keynote, CIC/Big 10 Symposium on Digital Humanities, April 2012.
  • "Railroads, the Civil War, and the Making of Modern America," The Michael Colligan Lecture, Miami University, October 2011

Ph.D., University of Virginia, 1995
M.A., University of Virginia, 1991
B.A., Trinity College, 1986 (with honors in history)
Episcopal High School, Alexandria, Virginia, 1982


Digital Humanities/Digital History, U. S. Civil War, Slavery, Nineteenth-Century