John and Catherine Angle Professor in the Humanities and
Chair of History
William G. Thomas III teaches U.S. history and specializes in Civil War, the U.S. South, Slavery, and in Digital History/Digital Humanities. He is currently the Chair of the Department of History at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and has served as the John and Catherine Angle Professor in the Humanities at Nebraska since 2005. He earned his B.A. in History at Trinity College in Connecticut and his M.A. and Ph.D. in History at the University of Virginia.
Thomas served as the founding Director of the Virginia Center for Digital History at the University of Virginia and taught in the Corcoran Department of History at U.Va. for eight years. He is a Co-Editor with Edward L. Ayers, Anne Rubin, and Andrew Torget of The Valley of the Shadow project at the Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities at U.Va. He is a Lincoln Prize Laureate in 2001 from the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College for the Valley of the Shadow project with Edward L. Ayers and Anne S. Rubin, and with them was awarded the James Harvey Robinson Prize from the American Historical Association in recognition of the project as an outstanding contribution to the teaching of history. Thomas was a Mead Honored Faculty at the University of Virginia in 2004-05.
At the University of Nebraska, he has been the recipient of several fellowships and grants, including a Digital Innovation Fellowship in 2008 from the American Council of Learned Societies, and a "Digging into Data" National Endowment for the Humanities research grant for "Railroads and the Making of Modern America". Thomas also served as the Visiting Professor of North American Studies at the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library in London, England in 2008. In 2013 he was appointed the American Historical Association member of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) of the National Archives.
Thomas was a co-founder of the Nebraska Digital Workshop/Forum on Digital Humanities, and he has led the development of digital history courses at UNL. The graduate program in History seeks to train historians for and in the digital medium of scholarship and communication.
His recent book The Iron Way: Railroads, The Civil War, and the Making of Modern America (Yale University Press 2011) was a Lincoln Prize Finalist in 2012 from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
Thomas's current research focuses on The History Harvest, a digital history project aimed at digitizing the nation's family and community history. He is also working on a digital project tracing the family networks of black and white litigants in early Washington DC before the Civil War, funded with National Endowment for the Humanities Collaborative Research grant. Working with partners at the University of Maryland, Thomas and a team of researchers will be reconstructing the case files of the D. C. Circuit Court from 1800 to 1860.