Dr. Steve Messer

Stephen Messer

Professor of History

Office Location: Reade 146
Phone: (765) 998-5101
Email: stmesser@taylor.edu

Specialties: african american history, civil rights movement, colonial america, cultural landscape of the united states, history of the space program, home front during wartime, responses to death in american history, united states women’s history


Vitae PDF: Dr. Steve Messer's Printable Vitae

Stephen C. Messer

Department of History
Taylor University
Upland, IN 46989


Marital Status: Married 

Telephone: 765-998-5101

E-Mail: stmesser@tayloru.edu


Ph.D., History, Florida State University, 1987
Major Field: United States to 1800
Minor Fields: United States, 19th Century, United States, 20th Century, Geography
Dissertation: "Two Answers to the Riddle:  A Comparison of Attitudes toward Death in Colonial Massachusetts and South Carolina"

M.S., Social Science, Florida State University, 1984
Major Field: Sociology
Minor Field: Geography

M.A., History, Florida State University, 1982
Major Field: United States to 1865
Minor Field: Tudor-Stuart England
Thesis: "Responses to Social Death in Seventeenth Century Massachusetts"

B.A., History/English, Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL, 1977


Professor of History
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Tenure Effective 1997-98

Currently teaching African-American History, Colonial American History, Women in American History, the Civil Rights Movement, United States History,  Introduction to History, and the History of Death in America.  Developed and team-taught a travel study course on the Civil Rights Movement.  Co-directed the Weaver Project, a joint faculty-student research program.  Served as Director of the International Studies Program and as a member of the Student Life Committee, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Committee, the Faculty Personnel Committee, the Academic Policy Committee, Curriculum Management Committee, General Education Subcommittee and the University Honors Program Board.  Currently serving as an academic advisor and coordinator of senior comprehensive exams in history.

Instructor of History
Ball State University, Muncie, IN

Taught Western Civilization, United States History and African-American History.  Served as faculty advisor for one student organization.

Adjunct Instructor of History
Ball State University, Taylor University and Anderson University, Anderson, IN

Taught Western Civilization, World Civilization, United States History and African-American History.

Assistant Professor of History
Voorhees College, Denmark, SC

Taught United States History, World History, African-American History, South Carolina History, World Geography, Introduction to Sociology and Introduction to Social Science.  Team-taught senior level interdisciplinary seminars on the Civil Rights Movement and the United States Constitution.  Served as an  academic advisor, a member of a number of college wide  committees and as a divisional coordinator for a Title III grant.

Adjunct Instructor
Tallahassee Community College, Tallahassee, FL 

Taught daytime and evening sections of United States History and The United States Constitution.

Teaching Assistant
Florida State University

Taught World History and United States History.  Served as an academic advisor and as departmental graduate student representative.

History Tutor, Summer Enrichment Program
Florida State University

Tutored freshmen in World History, United States History and study skills as part of an intensive summer program to assist minority students.


Membership Coordinator for Indiana, Organization of American Historians
Responsible for membership recruitment activities within Indiana.

Unofficial Consultant, Civil Rights Movement Study Tour Planning
Assisted faculty members from DePaul University, Manchester College, University of Detroit Mercy, Indiana University – South Bend, Huntington University, Berea College, Westmont College, State University of New York at Geneseo, and Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne with planning Civil Rights Movement Study Tours.

Participant, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Seminar – “Practical Implications of  the Holocaust for Christianity”
Interacted with faculty members and guest speakers on the impact of the Holocaust on contemporary Christianity.

Participant, NEH Summer Institute - "The History of Death in America," Columbia University
Interacted with faculty and participants during this four week institute.  Focused on teaching and researching of this topic.

Member, Program Committee, Eighteenth Annual Meeting of Indiana Association of Historians
Assisted with development of conference program.

Participant, NEH Summer Institute - "Teaching the History of the Southern Civil Rights Movement, 1865-1965," Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Interacted with lecturers, readings and films on the Civil Rights Movement during this five-week  institute.  Focused on effective teaching of this topic.

Consultant, Oral History Project, Marion Indiana Black History Council
Consulting on interviews of African-Americans with recollections of early twentieth century Marion.  Project  funded by grant from the Indiana Humanities Council.

Instructor, University Experience Program, Florida State University
Served as a discussion section leader for a course designed to assist freshmen in the transition from high school to the university.

Intern, Insurance Committee, Florida House of Representatives, Tallahassee, FL
Assisted with publicity and research for revision of the state insurance code.

Assistant Curator, Fort Sheridan Museum, Fort Sheridan, IL
Researched and designed exhibits, supervised summer employees and conducted educational programs for adult and student groups.


Chair, “Student Presentations on the Civil Rights Movement,” Taylor University Martin Luther King Day, January, 2015.

“Voices of Courage from Freedom Summer,” Taylor University Martin Luther King Day, January, 2014.

“Lifting Their Voices for Freedom:  Constance Baker Motley, Fannie Lou Hamer and Rutha Harris,” Taylor University Martin Luther King Day, January 2012.

Chair, “Religion, Civil Rights, and the Use of History to Make a Moral Point,” Conference on Faith and History, Bluffton College, September, 2008.

Chair/Respondent, “Exploring Death in the Nineteenth Century South,” Southern Historical Association Annual Meeting, Richmond, October, 2007.

Panel Member, “First Timers’ Session,” Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting, Boston, March, 2004.

Panel Member, “Living Faith and The Brothers Karamazov,” the Oregon Extension of Houghton College, December, 2002.

“Civil Rights Movement Study Tours and the Pedagogy of Contested Space,” The Southern Historical Association Annual Meeting, Baltimore, November 2002.

Chair/Respondent, “Rethinking the Founding Generation,” Conference on Faith and History Undergraduate Research Conference, Huntington College, October 2002.

Panel Member, Curriculum Vita Workshop, Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting, Los Angeles, CA, April, 2001.

Chair, “Urban Fundamentalism in the Midwest,” Conference on Faith and History Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA, October, 2000.

“Memorials for Movement Martyrs,” Taylor University Colleagues’ College, August, 1999.

“On the Road with the Freedom Struggle:  A Civil Rights Movement Study Tour,” Scholarship of Teaching Conference, Indiana University Purdue University Ft. Wayne, March, 1999.

"Beyond 'The Sun Do Move':  Rev. John Jasper and the Challenge of Accommodation in Post-Civil War Richmond," Conference on Faith and History, Nashville, Tennessee; September, 1998.

“Teaching the Civil Rights Movement,” Indiana Association of Historians Annual Meeting, DePauw University, Greencastle, Indiana; February, 1998.

"Run Away Wives in Colonial South Carolina," Popular Culture Association National Meeting, Chicago, Illinois; April, 1994.

"The Civil Rights Movement and Recent American Culture:  A Case Study," Popular Culture Association National Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana; April, 1993.

"Death in the Weaver Community:  Causes, Records and Markers," Popular Culture Association National Meeting, Louisville, Kentucky; March, 1992. (co-author)

"The Reporting of Death in the South Carolina Gazette, 1732-1770," Popular Culture Association National Meeting, Toronto, Canada; March, 1990.

"The Role of Africa in the Teaching of African-American History," African Festival, Ball State University African Student Association, Muncie, Indiana; February, 1990.

"'Go Forward':  Responses to Death in Tallahassee, Florida 1880-1900," Tallahassee Historical Society; April, 1985.

"Idealization, Consolation, and Exhortation:  Death Imagery in Massachusetts Puritan Funeral Sermons," Florida College Teachers of History Annual Meeting, Miami, Florida; March, 1985.



Finding Mom.  Eugene, OR:  Resource Publications, 2015


“Road Essay,” The Christian Century, April 27, 2016.

“History Lesson,” The Chronicle Review, September 17, 2012.

“Charles Gomillion, Frank M. Johnson, John R. Lynch, Ruby Doris Smith Robertson, and Cleveland Sellers,” in Civil Rights In the United States, published by Macmillan Reference USA, 2000.

"A Civil Rights Movement Study Tour of the South," Race and Democracy:  A Newsletter On the History of the Southern Movement, Fall, 1995.

"'Go Forward':  Responses to Death in Tallahassee, Florida 1880-1900," Apalachee, Vol. 10, May, 1991.

"Individual Responses to Death in Puritan Massachusetts," Omega:  Journal of Death and Dying, Vol. 21 (2), 1990.

"Loud Sermons in the Press:  The Reporting of Death in Early Massachusetts Newspapers," Historical Journal of Massachusetts, Vol. 17, Winter, 1989.

Book Reviews

Daniel S. Lucks, Selma to Saigon:  The Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War in Fides et Historia, Winter/Spring, 2016.

Kristina Du Rocher, Raising Racists:  The Socialization of White Children in the Jim Crow South in Fides et Historia, Summer/Fall, 2012.

David C. Carter, The Music Has Gone Out of the Movement:  Civil Rights and the Johnson Administration, 1965-1968 in Fides et Historia, Winter/Spring, 2010.

Mary N. Mitchell, Raising Freedom’s Child:  Black Children and Visions of the Future after Slavery and Richard S. Newman, Freedom’s Prophet:  Bishop Richard Allen, the AME Church, and the Black Founding Fathers in Fides et Historia, Summer/Fall, 2009.

John M. Giggie, After Redemption:  Jim Crow and the Transformation of African American Religion in the Delta, 1875-1915 in Fides et Historia, Summer/Fall, 2008.

Melvin Patrick Ely, Israel on the Appomattox:  A Southern Experiment in Black Freedom from the 1790s Through the Civil War in Fides et Historia, Summer/Fall, 2006.

Paul Harvey, Freedom’s Coming:  Religious Culture and the Shaping of the South from the Civil War through the Civil Rights Era in Fides et Historia, Winter/Spring, 2006.

John Lupold and Thomas French, Jr., Bridging Deep South Rivers:  The Life and Legend of Horace King in The South Carolina Historical Magazine, April, 2006.

Ann Field Alexander, Race Man:  The Rise and Fall of the “Fighting Editor,” John Mitchell Jr. in History:  Reviews of New Books, Spring, 2003.

Stephen Prothero, Purified by Fire:  A History of Cremation in America, in Florida Historical Quarterly, Spring, 2002.

John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger, Runaway Slaves:  Rebels on the Plantation, in Fides et Historia, Winter/Spring, 2001.

Glenn T. Eskew, But for Birmingham:  The Local and National Movements in the Civil Rights Struggle, in Fides et Historia, Summer/Fall, 1999.

Margaret E. Newell, From Dependency to Independence:  Economic Revolution in Colonial New England, in History:  Reviews of New Books, Summer, 1999.

Milton C. Sernett, Bound for the Promised Land:  African American Religion and the Great Migration, in Fides et Historia, Summer/Fall, 1998.

A. Leon Higginbotham, Jr., Shades of Freedom:  Racial Politics and Presumptions of the American Legal Process, in Fides et Historia, Summer, 1997.

Alfred Cave, The Pequot War, in History:  Reviews of New Books,  Winter, 1997.

Alden Vaughan, Roots of American Racism, in History:  Reviews of New Books, Winter, 1996.

James Weldon Johnson, Black Manhattan, in Reprint Bulletin, Fall, 1991.

Langston Hughes and Milton Meltzer, Black Magic:  A Pictorial History of the African-American in the Performing Arts, in Reprint Bulletin, Summer, 1991.

Randell M. Miller, ed., Dear Master:  Letters of a Slave Family, in Reprint Bulletin, Winter, 1991.

Daniel H. Thomas, Fort Toulouse:  The French Outpost at the Alabamas on the Coosa, in Reprint Bulletin, Winter, 1991.

Malcolm Bell, Jr., Major Butler's Legacy:  Five Generations of a Slaveholding Family, in Reprint Bulletin, Fall, 1990.


“Biblical Principles and Doing History,” CCCU Faith and Learning Integration Channel, Fall, 2012.


Attitudes toward Death in American History

Death and Martyrdom in the Civil Rights Movement


Organization of American Historians

Southern Historical Association


Distinguished Professor of the Year, Taylor University, 2008

Sabbatical, Taylor University, Spring Semester, 2006.

Sabbatical, Taylor University, Fall Semester, 1998.

Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award, Taylor University, 1996

President's Task Force on Minority Awareness Incentive Award, Taylor University, 1991 and 1992

Social Science Division Research Grant, Taylor University, 1991

Strengthening the Humanities Grant, Mellon Foundation/United Negro College Fund, 1986

History Department Dissertation Fellowship, Florida State University, 1985

College Fellowship, Florida State University, 1980-81

Graduate, Summa Cum Laude, Trinity College, 1977