Gareth Davies

Gareth Davies is Professor of American History at the UCL Institute of the Americas.

He has published on the history of American liberalism; on the development of American social policy since the New Deal; and on the history of education politics.  He is currently completing a book on the evolution of American responses to natural disaster, from the early Republic to the present day.  In it, he explores when, why and how American expectations of government have grown, and seeks to understand why natural disasters have become vastly more costly during the past half-century.  In that last context, he is particularly interested in the paradoxical ways that governmental efforts to protect Americans from catastrophe have sometimes had the opposite effect.

Selected publications


  • See Government Grow: Education Politics from Johnson to Reagan (2007)
  • From Opportunity to Entitlement: The Transformation and Decline of Great Society Liberalism (1996)
  • (with Julian Zelizer), ed., America at the Ballot Box: Elections and Political History (2015)
  • (with Cheryl Hudson), ed., Ronald Reagan and the 1980s (2008)

Articles and Essays:

  • “Pre-Modern Disaster Politics: Combatting Catastrophe in the 1950s,” Publius: The Journal of Federalism (May, 2017)
  • “Lyndon Johnson and Disaster Politics,” Presidential Studies Quarterly (Sept. 2017)
  • “The New Deal in 1940: Embattled or Entrenched?,” in Davies and Zelizer, eds., America at the Ballot Box, 153-166
  • “The Changing Politics of Disaster: From Coolidge to Nixon,” in Brian Balogh and Bruce J. Schulman, eds., Recapturing the Oval Office: New Historical Approaches to the American Presidency (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2015), 233-249
  • “On Martha Derthick,” The Forum: A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics (2015)
  • “Dealing with Disaster: The Politics of Catastrophe in the United States, from 1789-1861,” American Nineteenth Century History (2013) “Towards Big Government Conservatism: Conservatives and Federal Aid to Education in the 1970s,” Journal of Contemporary History, October 2008, 621-635
  • “Nixon and School Desegregation,” Journal of Policy History, (Nov. 2007)
  • “The Great Society after Johnson: The Case of Bilingual Education,” Journal of American History (June 2002)
  • (with Martha Derthick), “Race and the Social Security Act of 1935,” Political Science Quarterly, Summer 1997, 226-249