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About Raymond Arsenault

Raymond Arsenault is the John Hope Franklin Professor of Southern History in the Department of History and Politics at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, where he has taught since 1980. A specialist in the political, social, environmental, and civil rights history of the American South, he has also taught at the University of Minnesota, Brandeis University, the University of Chicago, the Florida State University Study Abroad Center in London, and the Universite d’Angers, in France, where he was a Fulbright Lecturer in 1984-85. A native of Cape Cod, he was educated at Princeton University and Brandeis University, where he received his Ph.D. in 1981.

Arsenault is the author or editor of eight books: The Wild Ass of the Ozarks: Jeff Davis and the Social Bases of Southern Politics (1984); St. Petersburg and the Florida Dream, 188-1950 (1988, Pbk. 1996); Crucible of Liberty: 200 Years of the Bill of Rights (1991); The Changing South of Gene Patterson: Journalism and Civil Rights, 1960-1968 (2002), co-edited with Roy Peter Clark; Paradise Lost? The Environmental History of Florida (2005), co-edited with Jack E. Davis; Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice (2006; abridged ed. 2011); and The Sound of Freedom: Marian Anderson, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Concert That Awakened America (2009). His most recent book, co-edited with Orville Vernon Burton, is Dixie Redux: Essays in Honor of Sheldon Hackney (2013), a tribute to his late mentor, a noted academic leader and champion of civil rights. Arsenault has won several best book awards, and in 1985 his article “The End of the Long Hot Summer: The Air Conditioner and Southern Culture,” Journal of Southern History (November 1984), won the Green – Ramsdell Prize awarded by the Southern Historical Association.

Freedom Riders, published by Oxford University Press as part of the Pivotal Moments in American History series, was named a New York Times Editor’s Choice, selected as one of the Washington Post BookWorld’s Best Books of the Year, and awarded the 2007 Frank L. and Harriet C. Owsley Prize of the Southern Historical Association, as the most important book published in the field of Southern history in 2006. The abridged version of Freedom Riders, published in 2011, is the companion volume to the acclaimed American Experience documentary film Freedom Riders, which won three Emmys for writing, editing, and documentary excellence, and a 2012 George Peabody Award. Arsenault is currently writing a biography of the legendary African-American tennis star and public intellectual Arthur Ashe.


Present Professor, John Hope Franklin Professor of Southern History, University of South Florida


Research Interests


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Honors and Awards

  • C. O. Joline Prize in American History, Princeton University (1969)
  • Fulbright/Hays Lectureship, Universite d’Angers, France, (1984-85)
  • Virginia Ledbetter Book Prize, Arkansas Historical Association (1985)
  • Fletcher Green-Charles Ramsdell Best Article Prize, Southern Historical Association (1986)
  • Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award, University of South Florida (1989)
  • Charlton Tebeau Book Prize, Florida Historical Society (1990)
  • Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching Award, University of South Florida (1994)
  • Nelson Poynter Civil Liberties Award, American Civil Liberties Union of Florida (2003)
  • Distinguished Lecturer, Organization of American Historians (2004-12)
  • Frank L. and Harriet C. Owsley Award (Southern Historical Association (awarded to Freedom Riders)(2007)
  • Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights Book Awards, Honorable Mention (awarded to Freedom Riders) (2007)
  • Best Nonfiction Books of 2006, Washington Post Bookworld (Awarded to Freedom Riders) (2006)
  • New York Times Book Review, Editor’s Choice (awarded to Freedom Riders)(2006)
  • Choice Best Academic Books of the Year (awarded to The Sound of Freedom) (2009)
  • New York Times Book Review. Editor’s Choice (awarded to The Sound of Freedom) (2009)
  • Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research and Creative Scholarship, 2008 USFSP (2009)
  • Dorothy Dodd Lifetime Achievement Award, Florida Historical Society (2012)


Ph.D., Brandeis University ‐ American History
M.A., Brandeis University ‐ American History
B.A., Princeton University ‐ History

Contact Information

200 Snell House 767 36th Ave., N.
Florida Studies Program


Books (9)

Articles and Chapters (57)