Dr. John Quinn

Professor and Chair, History

Contact Information:

Room 231
(401) 341-3138


A.B., Georgetown University (1986)
M.A. in history, University of Notre Dame (1988)
Ph.D. in history, University of Notre Dame (1992)

Research Interests:

My research fields are Irish history and American ethnic and religious history. For my dissertation, I studied the temperance movement in Ireland at the time of the Great Famine. My focus was on the campaign launched by Father Theobald Mathew to give the total abstinence pledge to as many Irishmen and women as he could.  A much-revised version of my dissertation was published in 2002: Father Mathew’s Crusade: Temperance in Nineteenth-Century Ireland and Irish America (University of Massachusetts Press).

As Father Mathew and many other leading Irish figures of the 19th century were ardent abolitionists, I then decided to study Irish and Irish-American attitudes towards slavery. One of my projects was chronicling Frederick Douglass' tour of Ireland, which occurred during the Famine. Douglass was appalled by conditions in Ireland which he said reminded him of his experiences as a slave. My other project was trying to understand why Irish Americans were generally hostile to the antislavery movement.  My essays on these subjects have appeared in The Historian, The New England Quarterly and the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography.

Most recently, I have been engaged in local history, exploring the Catholic Church's role in Newport from the time of the French occupation (1780) through the end of the Gilded Age. Newport is well known for its Baptists, Quakers and Jews, but its Catholic community has not received as much attention from scholars. My book, The Rise of Newport’s Catholics: From Colonial Outcasts to Gilded Age Leaders will be published this summer by the University of Massachusetts Press.