Karen Ferguson

Office: AQ 6232
Telephone: 778-782-6681
Email: kjfergus@sfu.ca
Personal Website: www.sfu.ca/~kjfergus

Areas of Study:


I was born in Regina, Saskatchewan and grew up in suburban Toronto. Always a city lover, I reveled in living in Montreal while pursuing an undergraduate degree at McGill University. I received a doctorate in African-American history from Duke University in North Carolina in 1996. Since 1997 I have been teaching at Simon Fraser University and enjoying living in Vancouver. In July 2007, I began a joint appointment with SFU’s Program in Urban Studies.

Research Interests

My research interests in U.S. history are twentieth-century African-American, policy, and urban history. I am most concerned with the ways that race and public policy intersect in American urban politics. This is reflected in my two major research projects. Black Politics in New Deal Atlanta (University of North Carolina Press, 2002), considers elite African-American reformers and their efforts to use federal programs to improve the lot of Atlanta’s black community against all odds in the Jim-Crow era. My current book project is about the Ford Foundation's engagement with black-power activists in New York City during the 1960s and 1970s. It is a case study to understand the continuities and changes in racial liberalism in this era as its focus shifted from civil-rights integrationism to multiculturalism. I have supervised a number of M.A. theses, including one on the origins of African-American Islam, another on white middle-class anti-integrationist populism in 1970s New York City, and three on the 20th century black Left. My students have published scholarly articles drawn from this research and have been accepted to doctoral programs at Berkeley, Northwestern, Rutgers, the University of California-Santa Barbara, and the University of Toronto, as well as to Osgoode Hall Law School.



  • "Organizing the Ghetto: CORE, the Ford Foundation, and American Pluralism, 1967-1969," Journal of Urban History, forthcoming November 2007.
  • “Supporting Global Sustainability by Rethinking the City,” Journal of Urban Technology, 14, no. 2 (2007): 3-13. (With Meg Holden, Anthony Perl, and Mark Roseland).
  • "The Politics of Exclusion: Wartime Industrialization, Civil Rights Mobilization, and Black Politics in Atlanta, Georgia, 1942-1946," The Second Wave: Southern Industrialization from the 1940s to the 1970s, ed. Philip Scranton (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2001), 43-80.
  • "Caught in 'No Man's Land': The Negro Cooperative Demonstration Service and the Ideology of Booker T. Washington, 1900-1918," Agricultural History 72, no. 2 (Winter 1998): 33-54.

Areas of Graduate Supervision

Twentieth-Century Urban History, Post-Emancipation African American History, History of Post-Reconstruction American Public Policy, History of Race in the United States.


  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Aid to Workshops and Conferences in Canada Grant, 2005
  • Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
  • Standard Research Grant, 2002-2005
  • University Publications Grant, Simon Fraser University, 2001
  • SSHRC One-Time Institutional Grant, 2000