Photo of Clifford Clark

Clifford Clark

Professor of History and M.A. and A.D. Hulings Professor of American Studies, Emeritus, History

Education & Professional History

Yale University, BA; Harvard University, MA, PhD.

At Carleton since 1970

Since 1970, Cliff Clark taught courses on American social, political, and intellectual history with a particular focus on reform movements. In the early 1960s, the dramatic confrontations of the Civil Rights movement sparked his initial interest in the question of why reformers risked their lives for social justice.

As an undergraduate at Yale University, Cliff’s student work in the Manuscript Division of the Yale University Library enabled him to explore the fascinating connections between revivalism and reform in the crusades against slavery in nineteenth-century America. His senior thesis, a study of the abolitionist preacher Henry Ward Beecher, won the prize for the best undergraduate History thesis in 1963. He entered graduate school at Harvard that same year, taught in the History Department there while earning his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees, and in 1967 joined the History and American Studies faculty at Amherst College. His first book, Henry Ward Beecher: Spokesman for a Middle-Class America, was published in 1978.

At Carleton, Cliff chaired the American Studies Program from 1972 to 1992, ran Summer Academic Programs from 1984 to 2004, started a program for Japanese students from Chuo University, and chaired the Cross-Cultural Studies Program from 2000 to 2003 and also in 2011. His books include The American Family Home, 1800-1960 (1986) and American and Canadian Intellectual History, 1789-1960 in the General History of the Americas (1992). In addition, he edited Minnesota in a Century of Change: The State and Its People Since 1900 (1989). With Paul Boyer and others, he is one of the authors of the widely used American history textbook The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People, now in its seventh edition

He most recently taught courses on the American Civil War, Alcohol and American Society, American Social History, Popular Culture and Politics in late Nineteenth Century America, Growing Up Cross-Culturally, and American Intellectual History. He retired from the History department in 2016, and from 2016-18 he served as the Chair of Sociology and Anthropology.

Highlights & Recent Activity


  • “A Desktop Bookstand,” Woodwork Magazine, 55 June 2007, pp. 54-55.
  • “Reflections on the Art of Teaching and the Teaching of Art” in Susan Singer and Carol Rutz, eds., Reflections on Learning as Teachers (Northfield, MN: College City Publications, 2004), pp. 79-89.
  • “Henry Ward Beecher.” In: Kent P. Ljungquist, editor. Antebellum Writers in New York. Second Series. Detroit, 2002.
  • “Architecture: Domestic Architecture.” “Beecher, Henry Ward.” “Donner Party.” “Hill, James J.” “Housing.” In: Paul Boyer, editor. The Oxford Companion to United States History. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.
  • with Prowe, D. “The Summer Institute for Teachers of Talented High School Students at Carleton College.” In: Robert Blackey, editor. History Anew: Innovations in the Teaching of History Today. Long Beach, CA: California State University Press, 1993.
  • “House Furnishings as Cultural Evidence: The Promise and Peril of Material Culture Studies.” American Quarterly, 1991, 43: 73-81.
  • “Setting the Expectations: Popular Shelter Magazines and Single Family Housing.” In: Liz Taylor, editor. Housing. New York: Cooper-Hewitt Museum, 1987. Reprinted In: Liz Taylor, editor. Housing: Symbol, Structure, Site. Washington: The Smithsonian Institution, 1990.
  • “Carpenter Gothic Houses in the Cannon River Valley.” Currents: A Minnesota River Valley Review, 1990, 1.
  • “Minnesota: Image and Identity.” In: Clifford Clark, editor. Minnesota in a Century of Change. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society, 1989.
  • “Ranch-House Suburbia: Ideals and Realities.” In: Lary May, editor. Recasting America: Culture and Politics in the Age of the Cold War. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988: 171-194.
  • “Domestic Architecture as an Index to Social History: The Romantic Revival and the Cult of Domesticity in America, 1840-1870.” In: Robert Blair St. George, editor. Material Life in America, 1600-1860. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1988: 535-550.
  • “The Vision of the Dining Room: Plan Book Dreams and Middle-Class Realities.” In: Kathryn Grover, editor. Dining in America. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 1987: 142-172.
  • “Historians and Curators Collaborate in Minnesota.” Organization of American Historians Newsletter, 1987, 15: 16-17.
  • “The Victorian Dining Room and How it Came to Be.” Architecture Minnesota, May/June 1985: 34-37.
  • [with Prowe, D.] “The Summer Institute for Teachers of Talented High School Students at Carleton College.” Perspectives: American Historical Association Newsletter, 1985 23: 16-17.
  • “American Architecture: The Prophetic and Biblical Strains.” In: Giles Gunn, editor. The Bible in American Arts and Letters. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1983.
  • “The Piano and American Victorian Thought.” In: Bruce Carlson, editor. The Piano—A Mirror of American Life. St. Paul, Minnesota: Schubert Club, 1981.
  • “Henry Ward Beecher.” In: Joel Myerson, editor. Dictionary of Literary Biography: Gale Research Publications, 1979.
  • “The American Revolution and the Historical Imagination.” Carleton Miscellany, 1979.
  • “Medical Doctors, Charlatans or Heroes.” Carleton Miscellany, Spring 1977: 205-208.
  • “Domestic Architecture as an Index to Social History: The Romantic Revival and the Cult of Domesticity in America, 1840-1870.” The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 1976, 7: 33-56.
  • “Town as Manifest (An Architectural History of Northfield, Minnesota).” In: Continuum: Threads in the Community Fabric of Northfield, Minnesota. Northfield Bicentennial Committee, 1976: 63-77.
  • “How Roger Williams Became a Revolutionary.” Carleton Miscellany, 1971-72: 71-72.
  • “The Changing Nature of Protestantism in Mid-Nineteenth Century America: Henry Ward Beecher’s Seven Lectures to Young Men.” Journal of American History, 1971, 57: 832-846.
  • “Religious Beliefs and Social Reform in the Gilded Age: The Case of Henry Whitney Bellows.” New England Quarterly, 1970, 63: 59-78.
  • “A Desktop Bookstand,” Woodwork, 105(June, 2007), pp. 54-55.
  • Books
  • [and others]. The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People, 6th ed. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 2008.
  • with Zellie, C. Northfield: The History and Architecture of a Community. Northfield, MN: City of Northfield, 1997.
  • The Intellectual and Cultural History of Anglo-America Since 1789. In: Guillermo Moron, editor. General History of The Americas, Vol. 32. Caracas, Venezuela, 1991.
  • editor and contributor. Minnesota in a Century of Change: The State and Its People Since 1900. Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1989.
  • The American Family Home, 1800-1960. Chapel Hill, N.C.: University of North Carolina Press, 1986.
  • Henry Ward Beecher: Spokesman for a Middle-Class America. Champaign: University of Illinois Press, 1978.

Exhibitions & Presentations

  • “A House of Our Dreams.” Minnesota Historical Society.
  • “Prohibition’s Legacy: Alcohol, Government Regulations & American Society,” a public talk at the Landmark Center in St. Paul as a part of a lecture series and exhibit program, November 22, 2008.


Agricultural History; American History; American Historical Review; Annales of Iowa; The Historian; History: Reviews of New Books; Indiana Magazine of History; Journal of American History; Journal of Interdisciplinary History; Journal of Southern History; Minnesota History; New England Quarterly; New York History; Voice; The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography; Winterthur Portfolio; Women Historians of the Midwest Newsletter.


  • 1991 Consultant, National Endowment for the Humanities Grant, Oakland Museum, Oakland, CA, Exhibit and Book on the Arts and Crafts Ideal in California
  • 1980 Minnesota Humanities Commission grant to run a symposium on “The Authority of Experts” in honor of the hundredth anniversary of Thorstein Veblen’s graduation from Carleton College published in Thomas R. Haskell, ed., The Authority of Experts, (Bloomington:  Indiana University Press, 1984)
  • 1980 National Endowment for the Humanities Grant for a year’s sabbatical to write a book on American Domestic Architecture
  • 1978 National Endowment for the Humanities Demonstration Grant (together with Prof. Lauren Soth), for an interdisciplinary course, American Architecture in Context

Organizations & Scholarly Affiliations

Northfield Historic Preservation Commission