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Matthew Isham

Matthew Isham

Managing Director, Richards Civil War Era Center

Managing Editor, The Journal of the Civil War Era

Office Address: 114B Pond Laboratory
Mailing Address: 108 Weaver Building

University Park , PA 16802
Office Phone: (814) 863-6702


  1. Colby College, B.A. English Literature, 1993
  2. University of Maine, M.A. American History, 1999
  3. The Pennsylvania State University, Ph.D. U.S. History, 2010


As the managing director of the Center, I oversee the Center's day-to-day operations and the execution of its programs. As the managing editor for the Journal of the Civil War Era, I guide each issue through the production process. I am a political historian of the Civil War era and earned my Ph.D. in U.S. History from Penn State in 2010. My main research interest is political media in the antebellum era, particularly the connections between party organizations and the political media networks that served them. My dissertation examined how partisan newspaper editors built party organizations through newspaper networks and how they carried out the essential business of the parties prior to the Civil War. I am particularly interested in the ways that partisan editors managed the parties' skeletal organizational structure and orchestrated their electoral campaigns through both legitimate and illegitimate means, from handling party correspondence and distributing campaign literature to buying votes and mobilizing gangs of thugs to "work" the polls on election days.