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Julia  Irwin

Julia Irwin

Julia Irwin
Associate Professor and Undergraduate Coordinator


Office: SOC 264
Phone: 813/974-2807



Ph.D., Yale University, 2009


My classes focus on the history of the United States and its relations with the wider world. I offer several lecture courses on this topic, including “U.S. Foreign Relations” and “Globalization and U.S. Culture.” I also teach a course on the History of American Food and Drink. I also teach seminars on such topics as “The U.S. in an Age of Empire,” "The U.S. and the Modern World," and “Science, Medicine, and Empire.”

In the classroom, I encourage students to think about how both state and non-state actors have played a part in U.S. foreign affairs throughout history, and to see how American social, cultural, economic, and political ideas and institutions have spread throughout the world. At the same time, I urge students to think about the ways that that people and events from outside the United States have shaped American domestic history. I also teach about important trends in international history, including the global history of medicine, health, and disease, and the role of disasters, development, and humanitarianism in shaping the modern world.

In addition to these subjects, I regularly teach the undergraduate course “The Theory of History.” In this class, we discuss the meaning of history and the methods and practices that professional historians use in our work.

I am also a mentor to several students through the Office of Undergraduate Research.


My research focuses on the place of humanitarianism, health, and welfare in 20th century U.S. foreign relations. My first book, Making the World Safe: The American Red Cross and a Nation’s Humanitarian Awakening, was published in 2013 by Oxford University Press. The book is a history of U.S. relief and assistance for foreign civilians in the era of the First World War, and focuses on both the diplomatic and the cultural significance of humanitarian aid in these years.

You can read more about my book here (please click).

Currently, I am researching and writing my second monograph, Catastrophic Diplomacy: A History of U.S. Responses to Global Natural Disaster. In this book, I will analyze how the United States government, American charities and relief organizations, and the U.S. public have responded to disasters caused by overseas tropical storms, earthquakes, floods, and other so-called "Acts of God" since the late nineteenth century. In addition to narrating the history of these responses, it will examine how the U.S. foreign disaster relief infrastructure has changed over time and the reasons why these changes occurred.

In addition to my books, I have published several articles that examine the history of American humanitarianism, health, and social welfare as a window into both U.S. domestic and international histories. Citations for these pieces are listed below.

Finally, concurrent with centennial anniversary of the First World War, I have published several articles about humanitarian responses to that conflict.

Specialty Area

U.S. relations with the rest of the world, 1890-present; international humanitarianism; the international Progressive Era and the First World War; cultural diplomacy and non-state internationalism; the history of disasters; the history of medicine and public health in global perspective.

Current Courses

RefCourseSecCourse TitleCRDayTimeLocation
82233HIS 6908010Independent Study
S-U Only Instructor's Permission Req

89761HIS 7980002Ph.D. Dissertation

TBA 100

Honors and Award

My dissertation, the basis for my first book project, won the 2011 Betty M. Unterberger Dissertation Prize from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations and the 2010 Edwin W. Small Prize from Yale University. My article, “Nation Building and Rebuilding,” won the 2008-2009 Best Article Prize for the Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.

Recent Publications

Making the World Safe

Making the World Safe: The American Red Cross and a Nation’s Humanitarian Awakening. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. view on amazon

“Raging Rivers and Propaganda Weevils: Transnational Disaster Relief, Cold War Politics, and the 1954 Danube and Elbe Floods,” Diplomatic History (forthcoming, but available via Advanced Access).

“Beyond Versailles: Recovering the Voices of Nurses in Post-World War I U.S.-European Relations,” Nursing History Review 24 (2016): 12-40.

“Interchange: World War I,” Journal of American History 102:2 (September 2015): 463-499.

"Taming Total War: Great War-Era American Humanitarianism and Its Legacies," Diplomatic History 38:4, Special Issue on "The First World War and its Legacies" (2014): 763-775.

"The Disaster of War: American Understandings of Catastrophe, Conflict and Relief," First World War Studies 5 (2014) 17-28.

"Teaching 'Americanism with a World Perspective': The Junior Red Cross in the U.S. Schools from 1917 to the 1920s," History of Education Quarterly 53:3 (2013): 255-279.

"'Sauvons les Bébés': Child Health and U.S. Humanitarian Aid in the First World War," Bulletin of the History of Medicine 86 (Spring 2012): 37-65.

"The Great White Train: Typhus, Sanitation, and U.S. International Development during the Russian Civil War," Endeavour 36:3 (2012): 89-96.

"Nurses Without Borders: The History of Nursing as U.S. International History," Nursing History Review 19 (2011): 78-102

“Nation Building and Rebuilding: The American Red Cross In Italy During the Great War,” The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era 8 (July 2009): 407-439.

"An Epidemic without Enmity: Explaining the Missing Ethnic Tensions in New Haven’s 1918 Influenza Epidemic," Urban History Review 36 (Spring 2008), Special Issue “Public Health in the City”: 5-17.