School of History, Classics and Archaeology

Staff Profile

Dr Benjamin Houston

Senior Lecturer, Modern US History


Ben researches and teaches 20th century US history, with a particular focus on the African American freedom struggle and post-1945 US and Southern history, plus oral and public history. Before moving to Newcastle in January 2010, he served as director of the Remembering African American Pittsburgh (RAP) oral history project, sponsored by the Center for Africanamerican Urban Studies and the Economy (CAUSE) at Carnegie Mellon University.


I am a scholar of race relations in modern US history. My first book, The Nashville Way: Racial Etiquette and the Struggle for Social Justice in a Southern City, was a community study of race relations and the Movement in Nashville, Tennessee.  It focused on the evolving relationship between racial law and racial custom (as exhibited by a number of different settings within the city) and how this relationship conditioned the cultural attitudes of whites and African Americans.  The book was awarded the Tennessee History Book Award (from the Tennessee Historical Commission & Tennessee Library Association) and the Arthur Miller Centre First Book Prize (from the British Association of American Studies and the University of East Anglia). 

I also maintain ongoing interests in oral and public history, as well as the intersections between literature and history. My next monograph will draw from the oral histories collected during my tenure as director of the Remembering African American Pittsburgh (RAP) oral history project. I curated an international exhibition that blended historic photographs with oral history excerpts from RAP that ran in two cities in 2017.  I also serve as an international consulting editor for The Public Historian.  I am also engaged on research on the 1960 sit-ins and African American authors of the late 20th century.

I welcome enquiries from prospective research students interested in modern US and African American history. 


i am currently teaching a Special Subject on the civil rights movement, plus leading a Stage 2 module on independent research.  I have taught variously at all stages on the 1960s in US history, the long black freedom struggle, oral history theory, methodology, and practicalities, and more.