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David Contosta, Ph.D.

David Contosta, Ph.D.

David's headshot
Chair, History
Professor of History
St. Joseph Hall, 2nd flr., West Wing, SJ217

Dr. Contosta has taught American history at Chestnut Hill College for many years. He received his Ph.D. from Miami University of Ohio.  He is the author of more than 20 books. These publications include several regional topics, such as "Suburb in the City: Chestnut Hill Philadelphia" and "Metropolitan Paradise: Philadelphia's Wissahickon Valley," which has recently been adapted as a documentary film. Other books by Dr. Contosta focus on national and international themes: "Rebel Giants: The Revolutionary Lives of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin" and "America's Needless Wars." At present, he is writing a book about the US Presidency entitled "American Monarchy." 

Dr. Contosta leads walking tours of sites in the local area and frequently gives talks to community groups.  He received the Chestnut Hill Community Association Award in 2005.  He has also lectured at Nanjing University in China and at Pyeongtaek University in South Korea. Dr. Contosta is a recipient of the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching. Earlier he was a Fulbright Scholar to France and a Visiting Research Professor at Cambridge University in England.

At the college, he teaches courses focusing on American history including the American History Survey I&II, the Civil War and American Life, the American Presidency, Pennsylvania Experience, Progressive America, America and the Two World Wars, the 1960s and Its Legacies, the Environmental History of the United States, and the required Research Methods seminar taken by all majors.

Educational Background: 
  • Ph.D., History, Miami University of Ohio, 1973
  • Fulbright Scholar to France
  • Visiting Scholar, Cambridge University
Courses Taught: 
  • History of Chestnut Hill
  • U.S. in the 20th Century
  • America and the 1960's
  • Progressive America
  • Philadelphia and Pennsylvania History
  • United States History Surveys
  • Cities and Suburbs
  • Civil War
  • The Presidency
  • Nanjing University, Nanjing China, 2008
  • Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching, 2006
  • Chestnut Hill Community Association Award, 2005
  • Eli Lilly Endowment, Writer for Yale Project on Colleges Founded by Catholic Women's Religious, 1983-87.
  • Commonwealth Speaker, Pennsylvania Humanities Council, 1983-84, 1998-99.
  • American Philosophical Society, Travel Grant, 1982
  • Fulbright Scholar, to France, 1972-73
  • Phi Beta Kappa, 1967
  • Who's Who in the World
  • Who's Who in American Education
  • Who's Who in the East
  • Contemporary Authors
Selected Publications: 
Author of approximately 100 articles, reviews, and scholarly papers, including:
  • "Philadelphia's Miniature Williamsburg: The Colonial Revival and Germantown's Market Square," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (October 1996), pp. 1-39
  • "Suburban Quasi Government in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (July 1992), pp. 259-293
  • "Architecture and the American Survey," The History Teacher (November, 1984), pp. 17-43
  • "Origins of Early Domestic Architecture in Lancaster, Ohio," The Old Northwest (Full 1981), pp. 201-216
  • Charles Peguy, critique du monde moderne, " Feuillets Mensuels de l'Amitie Charles Peguy, 209 (April 1976), pp. 11-18
  • "John Ruskin on Pollution and Moral Responsibility, "  Phi Kappa Phi Journal (Fall 1972), pp. 64-69
Author of 20 books, including:
  • Henry Adams and the American Experiment. Boston: Litle, Brown, 1980. (hardcover and paper).
  • America in the Twentieth Century. New York: HarperCollins, 1988.
  • A Philadelphia Family. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1988. (hardcover and paper).
  • Lancaster, Ohio: Frontier Town to Edge City, 1800-2000. 1999.
  • Saint Joseph's: Philadelphia's Jesuit University: 150 Years. 2000.
  • Suburb in the City: Chestnut Hill Philadelphia. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1992. (hardcover and paper).
  • Villanova University: America--Catholic--Augustinian.1842-1992. University Park, PA.: Penn State University Press, 1995.
  • Pennsylvania's Progressive Orphanage: The Carson Valley School 1918-1993 (Penn State Press, 1997).
  • Rebel Giants The Revolutionary Lives of Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin. Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books 2008.
  • Metropolitan Paradise: The Struggle for Nature in the City: Philadelphia's Wissahickon Valley, 1620-2020. Philadelphia: St. Joseph's University Press, 2010.
  • Dr. Contosta is currently working on a documentary film based on his book, Metropolitan Paradise.