Dr. Alison Efford

Alison Efford
Dr. Alison EffordMarquette University

Sensenbrenner Hall, 303G

MilwaukeeWI53201United States of America
(414) 288-7863

Associate Professor


Alison Clark Efford (PhD, Ohio State, 2008) is an historian of immigration and the nineteenth-century United States. Questions of race and power stand at the center of her work, which typically intertwines cultural, social, and political analysis.

 Her first book, German Immigrants, Race, and Citizenship in the Civil War Era (Cambridge University Press, 2013), explored how German Americans contributed to the rise and fall of white commitment to black rights. Other essays and articles have appeared in journals such as The Missouri Historical Review, the Journal of the Civil War Era, several edited collections, and the Encyclopedia of Milwaukee.

 In collaboration with Viktorija Bilić (Translation and Interpreting Studies, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee), Dr. Efford is publishing a collection of edited and translated letters by an important German American abolitionist and suffragist. Radical Relationships: The Civil War–Era Correspondence of Mathilde Franziska Anneke is forthcoming with Georgia University Press (2021).

 Dr. Efford’s latest project uses the heavily documented phenomenon of immigrant suicide to apply new insights from the history of emotions to the question of immigrant suffering. With case studies of German, Jewish Eastern European, Japanese, Polish, and Italian immigrants, her book will link intensely personal feelings of despair to the ways different groups interacted with each other at the turn of the twentieth century.

 As a teacher, Dr. Efford has partnered with several local organizations (including Milwaukee Turners, Escuela Verde) to bring community-engaged learning to her students and is experimenting with in-class career discernment. Her work was recognized by a teaching award from the College of Arts and Sciences. She further serves as newsletter editor for the Immigration and Ethnic History Society and a book review editor for H-Transnational German Studies.

Public-facing video and audio

 On community engaged learning (2020).

 “What Chicago’s Historic Bronzeville is Teaching Us about Pandemics,” Covid Conversations Podcast interviewing Jane Peterson and Noel Hincha (2020).

 Commentary on Rick Schaefer's Refugee Trilogy, Haggerty Museum of Art (2017).


“Review Essay: Civil War–Era Immigration and the Imperial United States,” Journal of the Civil War Era 10 (June 2020): 233–53.

 “What Historians Can Learn from Translators,” The American Historian, December 2019, available online at https://www.oah.org/tah/issues/2019/history-and-the-movies/what-historians-can-learn-from-translators/

 “The Arms Scandal of 1870–1872: Immigrant Liberal Republicans and America’s Place in the World,” in Reconstruction in a Globalizing World, ed. David Prior (New York: Fordham University Press, 2018), 94–120.

  “Germans” and “Turners,” in The Encyclopedia of Milwaukee, ed. Amanda I. Seligman et al. Available online at http://emke.uwm.edu/entry/germans/ and https://emke.uwm.edu/entry/milwaukee-turners/.

 “The Appeal of Racial Neutrality in the Civil War–Era North: German Americans and the Democratic New Departure,” Journal of the Civil War Era 5 (2015): 68–96.

 “Immigration and the Gettysburg Address: Nationalism and Equality at the Gates,” in The Gettysburg Address: Perspectives on Lincoln’s Greatest Speech, ed. Sean Conant (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015), 211–32.

  German Immigrants, Race, and Citizenship in the Civil War Era (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

 “Race Should be as Unimportant as Ancestry: German Radicals and African American Citizenship in the Missouri Constitution of 1865,” Missouri Historical Review 104, no. 3 (2010): 138–58.

 “German Immigrants and the Arc of Reconstruction Citizenship in the United States, 1865–1877,” Bulletin of the German Historical Institute 46 (2010): 61–76.

 “Abraham Lincoln, German-Born Republicans, and American Citizenship,” Marquette Law Review 93 (2010): 1375–82.

Faculty & Staff Directory


Department of History
Sensenbrenner Hall, 202A
1103 W. Wisconsin Avenue 
Milwaukee, WI 53233
(414) 288-7217

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