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Interview with J. Morgan Kousser

Kousser, J. Morgan (2021) Interview with J. Morgan Kousser. [Oral History]

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Interview in eleven sessions (April 2016¬–October 2020) with J. Morgan Kousser, professor of history and social science, emeritus, and a pioneer in the field of historical expert witness testimony in voting rights and civil rights legislation. Kousser describes his upbringing and education in Nashville, Tennessee, including his youthful exposure to segregation, local politics, and the civil rights movement, as well as his undergraduate and graduate studies at Princeton (BA 1965) and Yale (PhD 1968), and his work with PhD advisor C.V. Woodward. He recalls his growing interest in quantitative history, and his involvement in antiwar and civil rights activism. He offers his thoughts on the character and evolution of the Caltech humanities and social sciences (HSS) division, particularly its social science program, and on numerous Caltech faculty, staff, and administrators, from his arrival on campus in 1969 to the present day. He recalls his participation on a range of Caltech administrative committees, his experiences teaching Southern politics, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and the history of the U.S. Supreme Court to Caltech students, and his recollections of sabbaticals at Harvard, Oxford, and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. Kousser’s five decades of research, writing, and expert witness testimony on racial injustice and discrimination, as well as voter disfranchisement and voter suppression in the American South, from the Jim Crow era to the present day, form the backbone of this narrative. He discusses a wide range of historical and courtroom work, including cases in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas; his testimony before state and federal legislatures; and his longtime involvement in landmark redistricting efforts and voting rights initiatives throughout California.

Item Type:Oral History
Keywords:History and social science, civil rights
Record Number:CaltechOH:OH_Kousser_M
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Kousser, J. Morgan. Interview by Heidi Aspaturian. Pasadena, California, April 2016 to October 2020. Oral History Project, California Institute of Technology Archives. Retrieved [supply date of retrieval] from the World Wide Web:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
Subjects:Subjects > Humanities
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Subjects > Social Sciences
ID Code:304
Deposited By: Oral Histories Administrator
Deposited On:20 Dec 2021 19:09
Last Modified:29 Jan 2022 02:06

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