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Nancy Beck Young

Nancy Beck Young

Phone: (713) 743-3085
Office: 542 Agnes Arnold Hall
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Nancy Beck Young is a historian of twentieth-century American politics. Her research questions how ideology has shaped public policy and political institutions. Much of her work involves study of Congress, the presidency, electoral politics, and first ladies. Dr. Young is also interested in Texas political history, especially Texans in Washington. She joined the faculty of the University of Houston in 2007 after teaching for ten years at McKendree College in Illinois. She has held fellowships at the Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University and at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. Along with colleague Leandra Zarnow, she was awarded funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities to host a 2017 Summer Seminar for College and University Teachers entitled Gender, the State, and the 1977 International Women’s Year Conference.


Dr. Young has taught a wide range of undergraduate courses, including the second half of the U.S. survey, the Age of Roosevelt, Twentieth Century Texans in Washington, Liberals versus Conservatives: Twentieth Century U.S. Politics from FDR to the present, and Electing Presidents in the Twentieth Century. Her classes routinely address the following issues: the development of American political institutions, the impact of public policy on the lives of average people, and the role of ideology in American politics. In each of her classes, Dr. Young uses a variety of methods to help students deepen their appreciation for American history and their critical thinking and writing skills. She has taught several twentieth century graduate level research and reading seminars on U.S. political history, U.S. historiography, and American ideologies. She plans to develop a graduate reading seminar on the history of public policy.

Research Interests

Dr. Young’s current book manuscript, “Legislating Prosperity: Congress and the Early New Deal,” is under review with Oxford University Press. She is completing two other projects: one, the “Oxford Handbook of the New Deal,” an anthology of state of the field essays, that should come out in 2017 with Oxford University Press, and, two, “Landslide Lyndon? The 1964 Presidential Election and the Realignment of American Political Values” that should come out in 2018 with the University Press of Kansas. Dr. Young is planning two more book projects: first, a biography of former Speaker of the House and Vice President John Nance Garner and, second, a study of the transformation of Texas from one-party Democratic in identification to essentially one-party Republican. The former argues that Garner, an often overlooked and caricatured politician, was crucial to modernizing the vice presidency, securing passage of much of the New Deal, and later raising questions about the efficacy of it. The latter will be a synthetic, analytical work that mixes oral history, archival research, and digital history methodologies to evaluate how and why liberal, moderate, and conservative Texans in Washington influenced national politics from the middle of the twentieth century to the present.

Selected Publications

  • Why We Fight: Congress and the Politics of World War II (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2013). Winner of the Guittard Book Award for Historical Scholarship (2014).
  • Encyclopedia of the U.S. Presidency, 6 vols. (New York: Facts on File, 2013).
  • The Documentary History of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidency, 25 Vols., (Bethesda, Md.: Lexis-Nexis, 2005-2016).
  • Lou Henry Hoover: Activist First Lady (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2004).
  • Wright Patman: Populism, Liberalism, and the American Dream (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 2000). Winner of the D.B. Hardeman Prize for the best book on Congress (2002).
  • (with Lewis L. Gould), Texas, Her Texas: The Life and Times of Frances Goff (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1997).