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Rick Valelly

Claude Smith Chair Emeritus of Political Science

Emeritus Political Science


  2. Phone: (610) 328-8127
Richard Valelly

Rick Valelly is Claude C. Smith '14 Professor of Political Science and has taught at Swarthmore since 1993.  He has published scholarly articles in both edited volumes and in the peer-reviewed journals Annual Review of Political Science, Politics & Society, and Studies in American Political Development.  Essays have appeared in the The American Prospect, the Nation, the New Republic, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.  

He is the author of American Politics:  A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2013), The Two Reconstructions: The Struggle for Black Enfranchisement (University of Chicago Press, 2004), and Radicalism in the States: The American Political Economy and the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party (University of Chicago Press, 1989).  In 2009 he published Princeton Readings in American Politics.

His book The Two Reconstructions received the J. David Greenstone Prize for the best book published in 2003 and 2004 in the field of politics and history, awarded by the Politics and History Section of the American Political Science Association, and it won the 2005 Ralph J. Bunche Prize of the American Political Science Association, which honors excellence in scholarship on racial, ethnic, and cultural pluralism, and the 2005 V.O. Key, Jr. Book Award of the Southern Political Science Association for best book on Southern politics.

In 1994, Prof. Valelly was a co-recipient of the Mary Parker Follett Award of the APSA Politics and History Section. The Follett Award was given in recognition of Valelly's article, "Party, Coercion, and Inclusion: The Two Reconstructions of the South's Electoral Politics," Politics & Society (March 1993).

His new research - supported by Swarthmore College, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Council of Learned Societies -- explores the rise and fall of formal and informal barriers to public service by gays and lesbians within the presidency and the executive branch, the armed forces, the foreign service, the national security agencies, Congress, congressional staff, the Supreme Court and its clerks, and the federal courts.  It  covers the era from the Lavender Scare of the early 1950s through the 2011 repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and its implementation - and will lead to a book tentatively titled Uncle Sam's Closet:  LGBT Enfranchisement and the American State.

In 2004-2005, Prof. Valelly was a Visiting Research Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democratic Politics at the Woodrow School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. In Spring 1997, he received a research fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. His project was selected by the NEH Chairman to form part of a special NEH initiative, the National Conversation on American Pluralism and Identity. Prof. Valelly has also held an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship at the Center for the Study of New England History of the Massachusetts Historical Society (June 1996), a residential research fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson Center of the Smithsonian Institution of Washington, D.C. (Summer 1994), and a residential research fellowship at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research at Harvard University (Spring 1992).

Valelly has served on several American Political Science Association (APSA) award committees and on the Executive Committee of the Social Science History Association. He co-chaired the Program Committee for the annual meeting in 1998 of the Social Science History Association and co-chaired the Program Committee for the 2006 Annual Meeting of APSA. In 2010-2011 he co-chaired the program committee for the Politics and History Organized Section of APSA.   In 2011-2012, he was the President of the Politics and History Organized Section.  He was APSA delegate to the American Council of Learned Societies from 2011 to 2014.

Rick Valelly founded and is co-editor of a series at the University of Pennsylvania Press, "American Governance: Politics, Policy, and Public Law."  He served on the Board of Editors for the Journal of Politics from 2007-2009.  He was the founding editor-in-chief of Oxford Bibliographies in Political Science, an on-line annual.

More information is available on his website.