Calvin Schermerhorn is a historian of slavery, capitalism, and African American inequality. He teaches courses in US, global, and business history and advises Barrett Honors and graduate students. He is currently the Dean's Fellow in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Fellow of ASU's Institute for Humanities Research, 2019-20.
His most recent book Unrequited Toil: A History of United States Slavery gives a thematic overview of African American slavery from the Revolution to Reconstruction with particular attention to the lives and perspectives of African Americans. Listen to a podcast on the book here. He is the author of The Business of Slavery and the Rise of American Capitalism, 1815-1860 which was a finalist for the Harriet Tubman Prize awarded by the Lapidus and Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library. Previous books include Money over Mastery, Family over Freedom: Slavery in the Antebellum Upper South (2011) and a long-lost ex-slave autobiography by Henry Goings (c.1810-18??), Rambles of a Runaway from Southern Slavery, co-edited with Mike Plunkett and Edward Gaynor (2012).
His next book project is: The Plunder of Black America: The Making of the Racial Wealth Gap. In over 400 years, there’s been startlingly little progress in overcoming the history of economic inequality for Black Americans. Today, the typical African American family owns 1/13th the wealth of the typical white family, a half-century after the signal gains of the Civil Rights Era and 150 years after the end of slavery. Instead of narrowing, the racial wealth gap is widening. By the 175th anniversary of Emancipation in 2040, the typical African American family will be poorer—much poorer—than in 1980 compared to the typical white family. It’s a story that’s largely been invisible, hidden by the assumption of progress after the end of slavery and the achievements of Civil Rights. Yet it’s a reality that can be seen in a chain of historical structural disadvantages..
Schermerhorn arrived at ASU in 2008 after earning a doctorate from the University of Virginia. Before that he worked in marketing in New Jersey and family support on an Air Force base in Washington, D.C. His research has been funded by fellowships and grants from the Smithsonian, Huntington Library, Gilder Lehrman Center, American Philosophical Society, and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, among other organizations. Follow on Twitter @CalScherm and visit https://calscherm.com for links to recent articles and teaching overview.