– David P. Cline –

Historian specializing in 20th/21st century United States social movements, oral history, and public history

I am a Professor of History at San Diego State University and Founding Director of the SDSU Center for Public and Oral History.  I teach classes in public history, the civil rights movement, oral history, the 1960s, and sports history and direct the SDSU Graduate Certificate in Public History. During 2022-2023, I was a Public Scholar Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities. From 2013-2020, I was a Lead Interviewer and Research Scholar for the Civil Rights History Project of the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. My past positions include Assistant Professor of History and Director/Associate Director of the Graduate Certificate in Public History at Virginia Tech (2011-2017) and Associate and Acting Director of the Southern Oral History Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2008 to 2011.) I have been Principal Investigator or Co-PI on grant projects of over $2.5 million, most of them dealing with oral history and digital history. I am currently in charge of two major grant projects in California: the Relevancy and History Project at Old Town State Historic Park and the California Oral History Project for the California State Archives. I am currently at work on The Last Great Trip to Nowhere: A True Story of the Brazilian Jungle and the Final Gasps of the Victorian Age of Exploration. And I am a co-editor, with Kristin Lawlor and Michael Roberts, of Roll and Flow: The Cultural Politics of Skateboarding and Surfing (SDSU Press, 2023).

My most recently published book is Twice Forgotten: African Americans in the Korean War, An Oral History (UNC Press, 2022), nominated for the Oral History Association Book Award and the Museum of African American History Stone Book Award. Twice Forgotten explores African American military service and the desegregation of the US military in the Korean War as a crucial step in the Civil Rights Movement. Library Journal, in a starred review, called “this exceptionally researched volume … an essential, insightful read,” Publisher’s Weekly called it “a treasure chest of insight into the Black military experience,” and The Journal of American History added, “Cline has made a major contribution not only to military history but also to the history of the American civil rights movement.” Diplomatic History says: “By framing the Korean War as both a critical battle in the Civil Rights Movement …and an experience that forged the identity of a generation of future civil rights activists, Cline makes a convincing case for centering the experience of African Americans who served in the Korean War into the historical memory. As the first comprehensive oral history of the African American experience in the Korean War, Twice Forgotten is an important contribution to Korean War history, military history, and African American history. By foregrounding the African American war experience, I expect it will prove as significant to Korean War history as Wallace Terry’s oral history Bloods was for the Vietnam War.”

I am also the author of From Revolution to Reconciliation: The Student Interracial Ministry, Liberal Christianity, and the Civil Rights Movement (UNC Press, 2016) of which CHOICE said: “Every academic and church library should acquire this timely, important book.” Nominated for the 2017 Oral History Association Book Prize, it examines the story of the Student Interracial Ministry, founded at the same time and place as its better-known ally the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, but whose seminarian members wanted to not only dismantle Jim Crow in the South but also change the mainline Protestant churches’ approach to racial issues. I also wrote Creating Choice: A Community Responds to the Need for Abortion and Birth Control, 1961-1973 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006), which explored community reproductive rights networks in Massachusetts prior to the Roe V. Wade decision. Creating Choice was honored with a Margaret Sanger Award in 2006 and an Editor’s Choice Award from the Historical Journal of Massachusetts in 2019.

From 2011-2017, I was an Assistant Professor of History at Virginia Tech, where I co-directed the Graduate Certificate in Public History and served as core faculty with Virginia Tech’s Master’s Program in Material Culture and Public Humanities.

From 2008-2011, I was the Associate Director of the Southern Oral History Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dedicated to exploring the many potentials of the digital humanities, I worked on a number of interdisciplinary projects incorporating history and technology, especially the use of augmented and virtual reality in the teaching of public history.

Before turning to U.S. history full-time, I worked as a journalist, arts administrator, and publicist in Western Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Virginia before returning home to California.

My public history projects have included being Principal Investigator for the SDSU/Old Town State Historic Park History and Relevancy Project, serving as Principal Investigator for the California State Government Oral History Program project in Southern California, and serving as a Research Scholar and Lead Interviewer for the Civil Rights History Project of the Library of Congress and the National Museum of African and American History and Culture. Back at Virginia Tech, I helped to develop an iPad application that uses augmented reality to teach historical methods and African American history to fifth graders, contributed to a virtual and augmented reality-enhanced history project on World War I, and co-founded the VT Stories university oral history project and a number of other major oral history research projects, including the VT LGBTQ Oral History Project. My other works include editorial projects for National Geographic, a National Public Radio documentary on the Korean War in 2002-2003 ,and a 2005 project to document the Cherokee Trail of Tears. I am also interested in African culture and history and have lived and worked several times in Kenya.

I hold a Ph.D. in U.S. History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an M.A. in U.S. History with a certificate in Public History from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and a BA in African Studies from Macalester College.