William Van Vugt

William Van Vugt


  • B.A., History, Calvin College
  • M.A., History, Kent State University
  • Ph.D., Economic History and Political Science, London School of Economics (UK)


As a guitarist of traditional British and American music--including bluegrass, Appalachian, and Celtic music-- Professor Van Vugt has played in various bands in Britain and America and has performed for the Royal Geographic Society, the BBC, and French radio, among other cool gigs. 

He also enjoys scuba diving and downhill skiing.

Academic interests

William Van Vugt's areas of research include:

  • British migration
  • British-American cultural / economic relationship
  • American settlement and development

His latest book Portrait of an English Migration: North Yorkshire People in North America (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2021) examines the long history of migration from North Yorkshire to North America. Based on diary entries and letters, the book traces the movements of several families as they move to and throughout North America, and places their stories in the broader context of migration patterns. This work follows British Buckeyes: The English, Scots, and Welsh in Ohio, 1700-1900, a work that examines the history of migration from a larger region (Great Britain) to one particular region in North America (Ohio.)

Other works include British Immigration to the United States, 1776 - 1914, published by Pickering Chatto. These four volumes are a collection and analysis of sources on British migration to the United States.

Read William Van Vugt's posts on Historical Horizons, the history department blog.


  • “English Workers in the United States.” In Encyclopedia of U.S. Labor and Working Class History, edited by Eric Arnesen. New York: Routledge, 2006.
  • “The English.” In Encyclopedia of New York. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2006.
  • “The Scottish.” In Encyclopedia of the Midwest. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2007.
  • Twenty-five biographical essays, including on English immigrants: “Francis Asbury,” “Evangeline Cory Booth,” “Charlie Chaplin,” “John Cotton,” “Samuel Gompers,” “Anne Hutchinson,” “John Lennon,” Thomas Paine,” “William Penn,” “Samuel Slater,” “George Whitefield,” “John Winthrop.”  Essays on Scottish immigrants: “Alexander Graham Bell,” “Andrew Carnegie,” “John Muir,” “Robert Dale Owen,” “Robert Louis Stevenson,” “John Witherspoon,” “Francis ‘Fanny’ Wright.”  Essays on Scotch-Irish: “Alexander Campbell,” “Matilda Bradley Carse,” “William Hill,” “Francis Makemie,” “Samuel Sidney McClure,” “Thomas Mellon.”
    In Making it in America: A Biographical Sourcebook of Eminent Ethnic Americans, edited by Elliott Barkan. Greenwood Press, 2001.
  • “Emigration from England and Wales to North America,”  “Great Exhibition,” “Emigration from Scotland and Ireland to North America and Australia.” In The Reader’s Guide to British History, edited by David Loades, vol. 1, 453-455, 584-585, 1455-456. Fitzroy Dearborn, 2003.
  • “An English Shoemaker in Indiana: The Story of Samuel Fowler Smith.” Indiana Magazine of History, 91 (March, 1995): 16-56.
  • “The English.” In Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, edited by David J. Bodenhamer. Indianapolis, 1994.      
  • “Welsh Emigration to the United States in the Mid-Nineteenth Century.” Welsh History Review XV, no. 4 (1991): 545-561.    
  • “Prosperity and Industrial Emigration from Britain to the U.S.A. during the Early 1850s.” Journal of Social History XX, no. 2 (1988): 339-354.     
  • “Running from Ruin?: The Emigration of British Farmers to the U.S.A. in the Wake of the Repeal of the Corn Laws.” Economic History Review, 2nd ser., XLI, no. 3 (1988): 411-428. Reprinted in The Era of Free Trade. London: Routledge, 1997.
Chapters in Books
  • “Did the Loss of the Thirteen Colonies have a Significant Impact on the British Empire?” In History in Dispute, vol. 12, The American Revolution, 1763-1789, edited by Keith Krawczynski, 164-168. Detroit: Thomson Gale, 2003.
  • “Britons in American Agriculture: Contributions and Challenges to Exploitative Farming during the “Farmer’s Age, 1815-1865.” In “Nature’s Nation” Revisited: American Concepts of Nature from Wonder to Ecological Crisis, edited by Hans Bak and Walter W. Holbling, 262-77. Amsterdam: Vu University Press, 2003.
  • “British Immigration during the Nineteenth Century: The American and South African Experience.” InRace, Ethnicity, and Reconciliation in South Africa: a Multicultural and Comparative Dialogue, edited by William E. Van Vugt and G. Daan Cloete. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books, 2000.
  • “The British.” In A Nation of Peoples: A Sourcebook on America’s Multicultural Heritage, edited by Ellliot Barkan, 75-95. Westport, Ct.: Greenwood Press, 1999.
  • “The English and Welsh.” In Peopling Indiana: The Ethnic Experience, edited by Robert M. Taylor, 106-24. Indiana Historical Society, 1996.
  • “Who Were the Women Immigrants from Britain in the Mid-Nineteenth Century?” In Immigration and Ethnicity: American Society, “Melting Pot” or “Salad Bowl”? edited by M. D’Innocenzo and J.P. Sirefman, 163-175. Greenwood Press, 1992.
Book Reviews
  • Celeste Ray, ed., Transatlantic Scots for Journal of American Ethnic History, Fall, 2006.
  • David A. Gerber, Authors of Their Lives: The Personal Correspondence of British Immigrants to North America in the Nineteenth Century for Journal of American History, December, 2006.
  • Robert Hagelstein, ed., New York to Boston: Travels in the 1840’s. (Brookville, NY: Confrontation Press, 2005) for Journal of American Studies (Fall 2006).
  • R.J.M. Blackett, Divided Hearts: Britain and the American Civil War (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2001), for South Carolina History.
  • John H.M. Laslett, Colliers across the Sea: A Comparative Study of Class Formation in in Scotland and the American Midwest, 1830-1924 (Champaign: University of Illinois Press: 2000) for the American Historical Review (June, 2001): 935-36.
  • Alison Games, Migration and the Origins of the English Atlantic World (Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1999) for the American Historical Review, (June, 2000): 1003.
  • Jon Teaford, Cities of the Heartland: The Rise and Fall of the Industrial Midwest (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994) for Michigan Historical Review (Winter, 1996)     
  • Deian R. Hopkin and Gregory S. Kealey, eds. Class, Community and the Labour   Movement: Wales and Canada, 1850-1930 (Aberystwyth: Llafur, 1989) for Victorian Studies (Summer, 1991).
  • Geraint H. Jenkins and J. Beverley Smith, eds. Politics and Society in Wales, 1840-1922 (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1988) for Victorian Studies (Summer, 1991).
  • David A. Pretty, The Rural Revolt that Failed: Farm Workers’ TradeUnions in Wales, 1889-1950 (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1989) for Victorian Studies (Summer, 1991).

Other reviews have been published in Fides et Historia and Michigan Historical Review.

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