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Faculty and Staff

James Kirby Martin
Cullen Professor Emeritus

James Kirby Martin

Phone: (713) 743-3107
Office: 640 Agnes Arnold Hall

Martin is a nationally recognized scholar of Early American history, especially the era of the American Revolution, and he is also well known for his writings on various aspects of American military and social history. He received his B.A. degree from Hiram College (summa cum laude) and then earned his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He began his teaching career at Rutgers University, where he earned the rank of Professor of History and also served for a period as Vice President for Academic Affairs. In 1980, he moved to the University of Houston, having accepted the assignment of serving as Department Chair of History with the mandate to foster the development of a cutting edge program fully devoted to excellence in teaching and the production of high quality scholarship.

Martin helped found the Papers of Thomas Edison project at Rutgers University and for a few years was a member of its board of advisers. He also served on the advisory board of the Papers of William Livingston project. He was the general editor of a book series on the "American Social Experience" (New York University Press) and likewise was a consulting editor for a book series entitled "Conversations with the Past" (Brandywine Press). Martin is currently serving on the advisory board of editors of the "Critical Historical Encounters" book series sponsored by Oxford University Press. He has done consulting with some of the nation's most eminent law firms in regard to the history of various consumer products, including alcohol and tobacco, and has both appeared on and advised on television programs aired by the History Channel and American Heroes Channel. He advises on historical issues with Talon Films of New York and has become involved in the development of screen plays designed to bring major historical events and personalities to movie audiences. Recently he began serving as historian adviser to the Oneida Indian Nation of New York.


Martin's teaching interests include Early American history through the Revolution, American military history through the Civil War, aspects of World War II, and Medicine and Health in the American Experience, especially in relation to the history of drinking, smoking, and hard drugs. He has taught many different undergraduate courses ranging from the survey history of the United States and Colonial and Revolutionary American history to topical courses on such subjects as disease and addiction in the American experience and the use of air power in World War II. His graduate level course offerings include Revolutionary Era historiography as well as the introductory and advanced courses on research and writing in United States history.  He also teaches a course on the history of ordinary persons.  During the spring 2016 semester, Martin will be teaching at The Citadel in Charleston, SC, as the Mark W. Clark Distinguished Visiting Professor of History.

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Research Interests

Martin is the award-winning author and editor of twelve books and numerous scholarly articles.  His current research interests focus on military, social, and political aspects of early American history, especially the Revolutionary period and beyond.  A new, third edition of his co-authored book, A Respectable Army: The Military Origins of the Republic, 1763-1789, appeared in 2015.  Among other publications, he has co-authored a book entitled Forgotten Allies: The Oneida Indians and the American Revolution (2006).  The fourth edition of Ordinary Courage: The Revolutionary War Adventures of Joseph Plumb Martin appeared in 2013.  Martin’s current writing projects include a general history of Revolutionary America (Wiley-Blackwell) and a study of George Washington and political power, built around the story of the Newburgh Conspiracy (Thomas Dunne Books, St. Martin’s Press, Macmillan). To help facilitate the completion of this project, Martin was named the James C. Rees Research Fellow at the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington (2013-14).  Other book projects, including studies of Benedict Arnold’s treason, the Six Nations and the Battle of Oriskany, and smoking in America (a companion volume related to his earlier co-authored book on drinking in America), are in various stages of development. 

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Selected Publications

  • Forgotten Allies: The Oneida Indians and the American Revolution (Hill and Wang, a division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006). With J. T. Glatthaar.

  • Benedict Arnold, Revolutionary Hero: An American Warrior Reconsidered (New York University Press, 1997).

  • Drinking in America: A History 1620-1980 (The Free Press, a division of the MacMillan Company, 1982). Revised edition, 1987. With M. E. Lender.

  • A Respectable Army: The Military Origins of the Republic, 1763-1789 (Harlan Davidson, Inc., 1982). Second Edition, 2006. Third Edition (Wiley-Blackwell), 2015. With M. E. Lender.

  • In the Course of Human Events: An Interpretive Exploration of the American Revolution (Harlan Davidson, Inc., 1979)

  • Men in Rebellion: Higher Government Leaders and the Coming of the American Revolution (Rutgers University Press, 1973).

  • America and Its Peoples: A Mosaic in the Making (Longman, Inc. 1989 [formerly Scott, Foresman & Company, and HarperCollins Publishers]). Fifth edition, 2004. With Randy W. Roberts, Steven H. Mintz, Linda O. McMurry, and James H. Jones.

  • (Ed.) Ordinary Courage: The Revolutionary War Adventures of Joseph Plumb Martin (Brandywine Press, 1993). Fourth Edition, Wiley-Blackwell, 2013.

  • (Ed.) Citizen-Soldier: The Revolutionary War Journal of Joseph Bloomfield (New Jersey Historical Society, 1982). With M. E. Lender.

  • (Ed.) The American Revolution: Whose Revolution? (Krieger Publishing Co., Inc., 1977). Revised edition, 1979.

  • (Ed.) The Human Dimensions of Nation Making: Essays on Colonial and Revolutionary America (State Historical Society of Wisconsin Press, 1976).

  • (Ed.) Interpreting Colonial America: Selected Readings (Harper & Row, 1973). Second Edition, 1978.