Dr. Alison Efford

Alison Efford
Dr. Alison EffordMarquette University

Sensenbrenner Hall, 303G

MilwaukeeWI53201United States of America
(414) 288-7863

Associate Professor


Alison Clark Efford (PhD, Ohio State, 2008) is an historian of immigration and the nineteenth-century United States. Questions of race and power stand at the center of her work, which typically intertwines cultural, social, and political analysis.

Her first book, German Immigrants, Race, and Citizenship in the Civil War Era (Cambridge University Press, 2013), explored how German Americans contributed to the rise and fall of white commitment to black rights. In collaboration with Viktorija Bilić (Translation and Interpreting Studies, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee), Dr. Efford recently published Radical Relationships: The Civil War–Era Correspondence of Mathilde Franziska Anneke (University of Georgia Press 2021). The volume presents edited and translated letters by the important German American abolitionist and suffragist, featuring her intense, cohabiting romantic friendship with Mary Booth. Other essays and articles have appeared in journals such as The Missouri Historical Review, the Journal of the Civil War Era, several edited collections, and the Encyclopedia of Milwaukee.

Dr. Efford is currently working on a project that uses the heavily documented phenomenon of immigrant suicide to apply new insights from the history of emotions to the question of immigrant suffering. With case studies of German, Jewish Eastern European, Japanese, Polish, and Italian immigrants, her book both examines intensely personal feelings of despair and addresses “expert” discussions immigrant emotions. Ultimately, American interpretations of immigrant emotions contributed to the movement to exclude certain groups from the United States.

Working in collaboration with community partners and Marquette colleagues led by Dr. Noelle Bridgen, Dr. Efford has become interested in the conditions under which physical movement and strength can empower people. She is working on a chapter on the history of women’s strength training with the Milwaukee Turners (where she serves on the board) and is exploring embodied pedagogy and community-engaged research.

As a teacher, Dr. Efford has partnered with several local schools to bring community-engaged learning to her students and is experimenting with in-class career discernment. Her work was recognized by a teaching award from the College of Arts and Sciences. She further serves as newsletter editor for the Immigration and Ethnic History Society and a book review editor for H-Transnational German Studies.

Public-facing video and audio:

Presentation for Historic Milwaukee, Inc. on Radical Relationships (2021).

On community engaged learning (2020).

“What Chicago’s Historic Bronzeville is Teaching Us about Pandemics,” Covid Conversations Podcast interviewing Jane Peterson and Noel Hincha (2020).

Commentary on Rick Schaefer's Refugee Trilogy, Haggerty Museum of Art (2017).



“Pandemic Parenting and the Lessons of Nineteenth-Century Romantic Friendship,” Nursing Clio, October 28, 2021.

Edited and translated with Viktorija Bilic, Radical Relationships: The Civil War–Era Correspondence of Mathilde Franziska Anneke (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2021).

“In-Class Career Discernment,” Inside Higher Education, May 12, 2021,

“Review Essay: Civil War–Era Immigration and the Imperial United States,” Journal of the Civil War Era 10 (June 2020): 233–53.

“What Historians Can Learn from Translators,” The American Historian, December 2019.

“The Arms Scandal of 1870–1872: Immigrant Liberal Republicans and America’s Place in the World,” in Reconstruction in a Globalizing World, ed. David Prior (New York: Fordham University Press, 2018), 94–120.

“Germans” and “Turners,” in The Encyclopedia of Milwaukee, ed. Amanda I. Seligman et al.

“The Appeal of Racial Neutrality in the Civil War–Era North: German Americans and the Democratic New Departure,” Journal of the Civil War Era 5 (2015): 68–96.

“Immigration and the Gettysburg Address: Nationalism and Equality at the Gates,” in The Gettysburg Address: Perspectives on Lincoln’s Greatest Speech, ed. Sean Conant (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015), 211–32.

German Immigrants, Race, and Citizenship in the Civil War Era (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

“Race Should be as Unimportant as Ancestry: German Radicals and African American Citizenship in the Missouri Constitution of 1865,” Missouri Historical Review 104, no. 3 (2010): 138–58.

Faculty & Staff Directory


Department of History
Sensenbrenner Hall, 202A
1103 W. Wisconsin Avenue 
Milwaukee, WI 53233
(414) 288-7217

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