Department of History

Eric Sandweiss

  • Chairman, Department of History
  • Professor and Carmony Chair, Department of History
  • Editor, Indiana Magazine of History
  • Adjunct Professor, Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology


  • A.B. at Harvard University, 1981
  • Ph.D. at University of California, Berkeley, 1991

Contact Information

Ballantine Hall, Rm. 822
(812) 855-0210


Eric Sandweiss

I study the ordinary people and experiences that shape our lives: the everyday structures that we drive past on our way to the monument; the unfamiliar music that confronts us as we turn the radio dial toward our station; the forgotten person whose letters we discover in our search for the politician or the celebrity.

As a historian, I ask: How do these everyday people and experiences add up to the larger patterns by which we identify a culture? How do those patterns then dissolve and transform themselves anew? My search for answers takes me in two directions: first, to the built environment and the people who have shaped, described, and pictured it; and second, to the matter of how history itself is told and understood. Both of these efforts draw on my earlier experiences in historic preservation, urban planning, and museum work. Here at IU, the job of editing the Indiana Magazine of History gives me an opportunity to continue to work around the “margins” of historical practice, as I collaborate with both professional historians and public audiences to shape a fresh discussion about what this region’s history mean to us as we look to our future.

I look forward to working with students who are interested in cities, landscape, material culture, music, public history, writing and editing, and the vexed question of just what is a Hoosier.

Selected Awards

  • IU College of Arts and Sciences James P. Holland Award for Exemplary Teaching and Service to Students 
  • UK Fulbright Distinguished Scholar Award
  • Smithsonian Fellowship in Museum Practice
  • Research Grant, Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts
  • Summer Stipend, National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Joan Patterson Kerr Award, Western History Association

Research Interests

  • Cultural landscape studies
  • Urban history
  • Architecture
  • Public history and museums
  • Visual culture
  • American popular music
  • Indiana

Courses Recently Taught

Publication Highlights


[e-book]  Our Greatest Artefact, The City:  Essays on Cities and Museums about Them, co-edited with Chet Orloff, Ian Jones, and Maria Mouliou (CAMOC: The ICOM Committee for the Collections and Activities of Museums of Cities, 2012)

The Day in Its Color: Charles Cushman's Photographic Journey through a Vanishing America, (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012)

[Edited and introduced] St. Louis in the Century of Henry Shaw: A View Beyond the Garden Wall. Columbia, MO: The University of Missouri Press, 2003.

St. Louis: The Evolution of an American Urban Landscape Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2001.

[With David Harris] Eadweard Muybridge and the Photographic Panorama of San Francisco. Montréal, CN: Canadian Centre for Architecture, and Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1993.

[In progress] The City Museum and the Museum City, a book about the representation of urban life in museums from the 1700s to our own time.

Other Links

Folklore and Ethnomusicology

Indiana Magazine of History