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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 articles in the Journal of Urban History, Labor History, the Journal of Sport and Social Issues, Policing: An International Journal, and Labor: Studies in Working-Class History. He also has chapters in The Oxford Handbook on Immigration and Ethnicity and Building the Black Metropolis: African American Entrepreneurship in Chicago. His book, Moving Up, Moving Out: The Rise of the Black Middle Class in Chicago, was recently published with Northern Illinois Press.

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. At Walsh University he has received the 2017-2018 Joseph Ezzie Outstanding Educator of the Year Award as well as the 2016 Faculty Service Award.

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



Scholarly Publications

With Michelle Bemiller, Eric Jefferis, and Rose Penix, “Neighborhood by Neighborhood: Community Policing in a Rust Belt City,” Policing: An International Journal, https://doi.org/10.1108/PIJPSM-01-2018-0002 

“The Work: Dealing and Violence in the War on Drugs Era,” Labor: Studies in Working-Class History, 15:2 (2018), 77-110.

“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.

Book Reviews

Review of Todd Michney, Surrogate Suburbs: Black Upward Mobility and Neighborhood Change in Cleveland, 1900-1980 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017), Register of the Kentucky Historical Society 116:2 (2018), 283-284.

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.

Newspaper Articles

“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.


Scholarly Presentations

“The Killing of Sugarbear: Nixon’s Failed Anti-Crime Formula,” Business History Conference, Baltimore, April, 2018.

“Can a Police Department Change? Canton’s Neighborhood Approach,” Planning History Association Conference, Cleveland, October, 2017.

“ʿI Mean It’s Like a Business: Working in the Drug Gang,” Urban History Association Conference, Chicago, October, 2016.

“The Illicit City,” Urban History Association Conference, Chicago, October, 2016.

“‘Mayor Smoke’: Responses to Kurt Schmoke’s Bid to Reform Drug Laws,” Ohio Academy of History, North Canton, OH, April, 2016.

“Affection for the Complexion: Hollywood, Race, and Boxing Films,” Sports and Violence Conference, Ashland, OH, March, 2016.

“Jim Crow and Organized Crime,” Association for the Study of African-American Life and History, Atlanta, GA, September, 2015.

“Isn’t Technology Marvel-ous? Iron Man, Vietnam, and the Military Industrial Complex,” Business History Conference, Miami, FL, June, 2015.

“The War on Drugs is Dead, Long Live the War on Drugs,” Urban History Conference, Philadelphia, PA, October, 2014.

“ʻThe Old Boy Network’: Corporate Racism and the Limits of Affirmative Action,” Policy History Conference, Columbus, OH, June, 2014.

“White-Collars to Whiteness: Immigrants and Corporate Careers, 1910-1930,” Business History Conference, Columbus, OH, March, 2013.

“‘Quite a mixture of peoples’: From Slum to Suburb in Chicago, 1900-1930,” Urban History Association Conference, New York City, NY, October, 2012.

“‘Jobs For Victory’: Gender, Race and Unionism at the Hoover Company during World War II,” Crucibles of Change: New Perspectives on Labor in the Great Depression and World War II, Youngstown Historical Center of Industry and Labor, Youngstown, OH, September 2012.

“Fighting the Shadow Corporation: Black Networking in Corporate America, 1964-1980,” American Historical Association Conference, Chicago, IL, January 2012.

“Black Markets in White Hands: Racism and American Organized Crime in the 20th Century,” Society for American City and Regional Planning History, Baltimore, MD, November 2011.

“Black Americans in White Collars: Instigating Change in Corporate America in the 1960s and 1970s,” Business History Conference, St. Louis, MO, April 2011.

“‘Ready to start fighting Communism here’: Politicized Workers and the Decline of the United Electrical Workers,” North American Labor History Conference, Detroit, MI, October 2010.

“‘The Time Has Come to Remove the Velvet Glove’: Gangs, Communities, and Public Policy in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia, 1965-1975,” Policy History Conference, Columbus, OH, June 2010.

“White Collars in the Black Belt: Unconventional Social Mobility in Chicago, 1914-1950,” Organization of American Historians Conference, Washington, D.C., April 2010.

“From Robin Hoods to ‘just hoods’ robbin’: Race, Gangs and the Business of Crime,” Business History Conference, Athens, Georgia, March 2010.

“‘Stones Run It’: Reasserting Control of Organized Crime in Black Chicago, 1940-1975,”
Social Science History Association Conference, Long Beach, California, November 2009.

“A Company Town Without the Company: Hoover Vacuum, North Canton, and Capital Flight,” Working Class Studies Association Conference, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 2009.

“The Hustler’s Ethic: Alternative Routes to Business Success in Black Chicago, 1916-1940,” Business History Conference, Sacramento, California, April 2008; American Historical Association Annual Meeting, New York City, January 2009.

“‘We have failed if all we do is produce houses’: Philip Klutznick, Park Forest, and Post-World War II Segregation,” International Planning History Society Conference, Chicago, Illinois, July 2008.

“Claiming Race Space: Black Pioneers in Chicago, 1914-1950,” “Who Claims the City?” Conference, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, May 2008.

“’I ain’t looking for trouble, but if it comes my way I ain’t dodging’: Violence and Armed Self-Defense on Chicago’s Color-Line, 1914-1940,” African-American Studies and Research Program Conference, Urbana, Illinois, April 2008.

“‘The type of people who would resort to violence’: Class and Segregation on the South Side of Chicago, 1945-1960,” Midwest Labor and Working Class History Colloquium, Iowa City, Iowa, April 2007.

“Race Conflict in South Side Chicago,” Southern Illinois University History Conference, Carbondale, Illinois, March 2007.

“Putting ‘America’ into Action: Class, Race and World War II-era Liberalism,” Great Lakes History Conference, Grand Rapids, Michigan, October 2006.

“Vanilla Thrillas: The Mickey Ward-Arturo Gatti Bouts and the Reemergence of White-Ethnic Masculinity,” Missouri Valley History Conference, Omaha, Nebraska, March 2006; Women’s and Gender History Symposium, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois, March 2006.

“White Flight from a Middle-Class Community: Chatham-Avalon Park and the Myth of Middle-Class Racial Tolerance, 1954-1963,” Conference on Illinois History, Springfield, Illinois, October 2005.

“The Persistence of Race in the Ring,” University of Chicago Minority Graduate Student Association Conference, University of Chicago, May 2005.

Invited Lectures

“Can We Have Liberty in a World Without Work?” Philosophy-Theology Symposium, North Canton, March 14, 2018.

“We’ve Been Here Before,” Stark County Genealogical Society, Canton, September 9, 2017.

“What Does Victory Look Like?: Our Never-Ending Wars in the Middle East,” Retired Teamster’s Club, Canton, Ohio, June 12, 2017.

“What is Alliance’s Plan for the Future?: Population Decline in Ohio,” Alliance Genealogical Society, Alliance, Ohio, June 8, 2017.

“History isn’t B.S.: Immigrants, Refugees, and the Current Crisis,” Phi Alpha Theta Conference, North Canton, March, 18, 2017.

“Born in the Good Soil,” Faith United Methodist Church, North Canton, Feb. 15, 2017

“Doomed to be Harsh?” Dead Man Walking: The Issues, North Canton, October 29, 2017.

“They Wanted Some Danger: The Bill of Rights and Our Obsession with Safety,” North Canton, Constitution Day Address, September 16, 2016

“Immigrants or Refugees?” Stark County Genealogical Society, Canton, Apr. 9, 2016.

“From New Berlin to North Canton: The Hoover Company and Ugly Americanism During the Great War,” What’s in a Name? Symposium, North Canton Heritage Society, Nov. 12, 2015.

“Legalization and Regulation: The Impact on Community Health,” Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Stark County Marijuana Summit, Oct. 6, 2015.

“The Fight for $15,” Retired Teamster’s Club, Canton, June 11, 2015.

“Mass Incarceration and the Family,” Stark County Genealogical Society, Canton, Feb. 12, 2015.

“Mass Incarceration and the Working Class,” Retired Teamster’s Club, Canton, Nov. 10, 2014.

“Fast Food Workers: The Labor Cost of Food and Hunger,” Ohio Hunger Dialogue, Walsh University, Sept. 27, 2014.

“Civil Rights in an Era of Mass Incarceration,” Louisville Constitution Center, Aug. 19, 2014.

“Retribution or Restorative Justice?” Ken Hamilton Forum, Feb. 13, 2014.

“Labor and New Deal Art,” Massillon Museum, May 26, 2013.

“White Trash, the Genteel Classes, and To Kill a Mockingbird,” Massillon Museum, April 23, 2013.

“Communism and a Company Town: Labor Turbulence at Hoover in the 1940s,” North Canton Heritage Society, March 27, 2011.


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