Williams, Mason

Mason Williams

Mason Williams

Ph.D., History, Columbia University, 2012

M.A., History, Columbia University, 2009

A.B., History (summa cum laude), Princeton University, 2006

Schwartz Fellow


Mason Williams is a Bernard and Irene Schwartz Postdoctoral Fellow at the New-York Historical Society and The New School. A scholar of American urban and political history, he is especially interested in how community action shapes what democratic governments can do and, in turn, how state responses to social problems reshape how citizens think about their governments. His dissertation and first book, a study of the New Deal in New York City, examines how public officials at the federal and municipal levels greatly augmented the scope of urban social provision during the Great Depression and Second World War, and in turn, how these changes in “what government did” encouraged citizens to think about their capacities as democratic citizens in different ways. Topically, Mason’s work touches upon the subjects of social and economic citizenship, political development/state formation, race and ethnicity, federalism, urban development, policy history, and biography.

A native West Virginian, Mason now lives in Brooklyn.

Courses Taught:

From the Founding to Facebook: Democracy in American History

Recent Publications:
  • City of Ambition: FDR, La Guardia, and the Making of Modern New York (New York: W.W. Norton, 2013)


Office Location:
80 5th Ave, Room 522

Research Interests:
  • 20th century American history
  • Democratic citizenship
  • Urban history
  • Political and social ideas
  • Federalism
Professional Affiliations:


  • American Historical Association
  • Organization of American Historians
  • Urban History Association
  • New-York Historical Society


Competitions and Appearances:
Awards and Honors:
  • Bernard and Irene Schwarz Postdoctoral Fellow, New-York Historical Society and Eugene Lang College, The New School, 2013–2014.
  • Bancroft Dissertation Prize, Columbia University, 2013.


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