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Will Cooley

Professor of History

B.A., Hamline University; Ph.D., University of Illinois

Walsh University
A Catholic University of Distinction
2020 East Maple Street
North Canton, Ohio44720
United States

Will Cooley is a historian of the 20th century United States.  His scholarly work examines race, labor relations, and social mobility.  He has published in the Journal of Urban History, the Journal of Sport and Social Issues, Labor History, and has also written entries for American Sports: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas and Multicultural America: A Multimedia Encyclopedia.  He has forthcoming articles in The Oxford Handbook on Immigration and Ethnicity and in an edited collection on African-American entrepreneurship in ChicagoHis current book project details racial discrimination and the making of the modern American middle class.

Cooley is also active in criminal justice reform efforts.  His articles have appeared in the Canton Repository and the Catholic Exponent.  In 2012, the Stark County Bar Association awarded him the Liberty Bell Award, which is presented annually to a citizen who has rendered outstanding service to the community. 

Cooley teaches a range of courses, including American Catholic History, 20th Century United States, African American History, Sport History, and the Industrial Revolution in the World. 

Cooley lives in North Canton with his wife, Melissa Kath, and daughter, Ella.  



Scholarly Publications

“Jim Crow Organized Crime: Black Chicago’s Underground Economy in the Twentieth Century,” in Building the Black Metropolis: African American Entrepreneurship in Chicago, Robert Weems and Jason Chambers, eds. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2017), 147-170.

“Immigration, Ethnicity, Race and Organized Crime,” Oxford Handbook on Immigration and Ethnicity, Ronald Bayor, ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), 319-337.

With Mark C. Rogers, “Ike’s Nightmare: Iron Man and the Military-Industrial Complex,” in Ages of Iron Man, Joseph Dorowski, ed. (2015).

Cooley, Will. “Cinderella Man,” in American Sports: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2013), 257.

Cooley, Will. “The Fighter,” in American Sports: A History of Icons, Idols, and Ideas (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2013), 434-435.

“Rise of the Unmeltable Ethnics,” in Multicultural America: A Multimedia Encyclopedia (Sage, 2013).

“Revisiting Gangs in the Post-World War II North American City: A Forum,” Journal of Urban History 38:4 (July, 2012), 807-811.

Cooley, Will. "Moving On Out: Black Pioneering in Chicago, 1915-1950," Journal of Urban History 36:4 (July 2010), 485-506.

Cooley, Will. "'Stones Run It': Taking Back Control of Organized Crime in Black Chicago, 1940-1975," Journal of Urban History 37:6 (November, 2011), 911-932.

Cooley, Will. "'Vanilla Thrillas': Modern Boxing and White-Ethnic Masculinity,"Journal of Sport and Social Issues 34:4 (November, 2010), 418-437.


Review of Christopher David Thrasher, Fight Sports and American Masculinity: Salvation in Violence from 1607 to the Present (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2015), Journal of Sport History 41:1 (2017), 538-539.

Review of Shannon King, Whose Harlem is this Anyway? Community Politics and Grassroots Activism During the New Negro Era (New York: New York University Press, 2015), Labor Studies Journal 40:4 (2015), 423-424.

Review of Laura Barraclough, Making the San Fernando Valley: Rural Landscape, Urban Development, and White Privilege (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2011), Material Culture 46:2 (2014), 74-75.

Review of Andor Skotnes, A New Deal for All?: Race and Class Struggles in Depression-Era Baltimore (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2013), History: Reviews of New Books 42:3 (2014), 85.

Review of Bob Barnett, Hillside Fields: A History of Sports in West Virginia (Morgantown: West Virginia Press, 2013), Journal of Sport History 41:1 (Spring 2014), 153-154.

Review of Donald Spivey, “If You Were Only White”: The Life of Leroy “Satchel” Paige (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 2012), History: Reviews of New Books 41:3 (2013), 108-109. 

Review of Richard Hoffer, Something in the Air: American Passion and Defiance in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2011), Journal of Sport History 39:1 (Spring 2012), 178-180.

Review of Lauren Berlant, Cruel Optimism (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011), American Studies 52:3 (2013), 77-78.

Review of Jason Kelly, Shelby's Folly: Jack Dempsey, Doc Kearns, and the Shakedown of a Montana Boomtown (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press, 2010), Journal of Sport History 38:1 (Spring 2011), 150-151.

Review of Jerry Izenberg, Through My Eyes: A Sports Writer's 58-Year Journey (Haworth, NJ: St. Johann Press, 2009), Journal of Sport History 37:2 (Summer 2010), 302-304.

Review of Thomas Barthel, Baseball's Peerless Semipros: The Brooklyn Bushwicks of Dexter Park (Harworth, NJ: St. Johann Press, 2009), Journal of Sport History 37:2 (Summer 2010), 289-290.

Review of Michael Lomax, ed., Sports and the Racial Divide: African American and Latino Experience in an Era of Change (Jackson, MS: University of Mississippi Press, 2008), Journal of Sport History 37:1 (Spring 2010), 172-174.

Review of Edward Slavishak, Bodies of Work: Civic Display and Labor in Industrial Pittsburgh (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008), H-Urban, December, 2008.

Review of John Mullin, The Rise and Self-Destruction of the Greatest Football Team in History: The Chicago Bears and Super Bowl XX (Chicago: Triumph Books, 2005), Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 100:4 (Winter 2007-2008), 407-408.

Review of Randi Storch, Red Chicago: American Communism at Its Grassroots, 1928-1935 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2007), H-Urban, February, 2008.

Review of Davarian L. Baldwin, Chicago's New Negroes: Modernity, the Great Migration, and Black Urban Life (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007), Journal of Illinois History 10:4 (Winter 2007), 324-325.


“What Can Be Learned from Past Drug-Fighting Efforts?” Canton Repository, March 4, 2017, A1.

“In Afghanistan: No End in Sight to America’s Longest War,” Canton Repository, July 9, 2017.

With Rick DeHeer, “Proposed Reforms Would Lessen Our Addiction to Incarceration,” Canton Repository, April 23, 2017, F1.

“Striking Louisville Teachers Imparting Important Lesson,” Canton Repository, Nov. 13, 2016, F1.

“Responsibility, Opportunity, and Revitalization: Canton Must Follow the Lead of Other Rust Belt Cities and Welcome Refugees,” Canton Repository, May 29, 2016, E1.

“How the War on Drugs Poisons Relations for Police and Community,” Canton Repository, June 28, 2015, C1.

“New Approach Needed to Fight Opioid Abuse,” Canton Repository, June 15, 2014, F1.

“Solution to Income Inequality is Resurgence of Labor Unions,” Canton Repository, September 2, 2013, A4.

“Bring Back CIRV,” Canton Repository, January 27, 2013, F1.

“Committee Sees Progress in Reform,” Canton Repository, August 31, 2012.

“Fair Hiring Will Mean a Safer Stark County,” Canton Repository, December 17, 2011, A9.

With Harry Klide, "Keep a Close Eye on Private Prisons," Canton Repository, September 18, 2011, F1.

With Stan Stromsky, "'Responsibility, Rehabilitation and Restoration Revisited: Seeking Criminal Justice Reform in Ohio," Catholic Exponent, July 8, 2011, 4, 19.

With Harry Klide, Doyle Walker, and Doug Brown, "Stark Group Proposes Reforms for Ohio Justice System," Canton Repository, September 26, 2010, F1.

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